Portrait of the Artist, Still Angry | by Jamie Laubacher

Learn to swim for the express reason of jumping ship.
Marry knucklebones and kerosene.
Paint your face like the war machine it is, invite the anarchists over for tea and cheat with the one sitting closest to you on the left. Give her a fake name.
Burn your stomach walls thin with coffee and dark rum then tune the shreds of your innards to drop D. Pluck. Repeat. Ignore the fact that you took 8 years of lessons and still can’t play.
Don’t sleep – the hours of 11pm to 4am are reserved for smashing your heart open like a piggy bank and realizing you never did save anything.
Scream like a goddamn banshee.
By the time the aching in your throat stops, the ringing in your ears will start and soon you’ll realize the ringing is in your head, and in your fingers, and your stomach, and never on your phone. Dial 9-1-1 then use both thumbs to play chicken with the “call” button.
Cry when the steps to your apartment look like familiar teeth. Cry when you remember where the books on your shelf came from. Cry when you miss your mom.
Beat at your chest like the empty oil drum it is, fill it with the cardboard from all the 12-packs you weren’t the one drinking, take the last of the kerosene you divorced in the end and light it all on fire. Light yourself on fire, change your mind, jump ship.
Ignore the fact that you took 8 years of lessons and still can’t swim.



Jamie Laubacher is based in Akron, Ohio. Her work has appeared in Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, Thistle Magazine, and several anthologies from Writing Knights Press.