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What I See When I Open My Eyes

What I see when I open my eyes, returning to consciousness from a nap in my recliner, releasing the coattails of my dreams with an infant’s hesitancy: two pairs of shoes, leisure, parting in the acute angle of standing position as if two ghosts just stepped out of them and seamlessly crossed paths, stumbling into but through one another, shoes sitting two feet away from the threshold of an open closet door because the owner, the walker, was too lazy to take two more steps toward the area of storage and order; an open closet door, whitewashed, not fully perpendicular to the jamb and yielding a flush white vertical line, but canted so that if I were to draw it, I would sketch two horizontalish lines, one angled to rise, the other angled to fall, the two end points joined by a standard vertical line to indicate the diminishment of size implied by distance, despite how short that distance may be; the visible, shadowed contents of the closet, strangely juxtaposed via striation, the bottom stratum an overflowing basket of childhood toys, mostly pretend swords and other weapons ranging from the archaic to the futuristic, the middle stratum a rack of formal clothes, suits, shirts, khakis that belong to me and not to me, the top stratum two giant, shelved paper bags of used clothing intended to be donated to less fortunate souls who aren’t so much worried about the namebrand as they are about the sleeves ending somewhere in the vicinity of their wrists, but clothes that have been shelved for two years and will likely remain shelved for two more because of criminal negligence; to the right of the closet, on the carpeted floor, dress shirts, shoes, belts, socks still encased in their plastic packaging (this packaging encased inside plastic, handled shopping bags), worth more than the combined contents of the closet’s uppermost stratum, yet clothing that will likely be used no more than once for silly, ceremonial purposes; above these bags, resting on a chest, truncated stacks of used books that will eventually rise to the heavens, books with only spines visible and titles illegible from where I sit, perhaps best left at this indeterminable distance because I’ve yet to read them and establish any sort of intimacy; also, a small framed wedding photograph of a younger couple who are supposedly my parents, linking arms in a toast, parents close to my age, my father possibly me, photograph the nostalgic hue of a brand new Instagram photo; an acoustic and an electric guitar, bodies invisible, obfuscated in my reclined position by an ambitious stack of school books on the table next to me, giraffe-like necks visible and pegged heads craning to see above the printed foliage in the room, perhaps uncomfortable with the silence; in the presence of the guitars’ casted shadows, a vertical seam rising to the ceiling formed from the joining of the perpendicular wall on my right, the majority of this wall obscured by windows, a smaller woodgrain bookshelf displaying mixed media and the capricious nature of my yearly interests, a full-sized bed that is perhaps the gaudiest in the known universe, too many pillows to count (sincerely), one with the insufferable cursive capital letter embroidery of the family namesake, a framed college degree that’s nothing but an arrangement of words and signatures; to my left, a collection of electronic devices (record player, TV, VCR, DVD player) stacked on cabinets that serve the dual purposes of elevating these revered objects and also sheltering all the individual discs that give these objects purpose, these objects now re-named “objects” because of the device that sits in my lap and the eerily personal connection I feel to it; to my more immediate left, on the end table, Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians and Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, both pragmatically bookmarked with a pen and sharing — thematically — more in common than I could have initially predicted, an Easter card with the word “son” printed on it along with some meaningless sentimental corporate words that acquire meaning when ingested, considered, given in earnest to a son by loving parents; also, an empty, stained coffee mug that could be fresh or days old; directly in front of me, in the laptop screen now rendered blank and reflective from negligence, my own face, unflattering and double-chinned at this angle but likely how the face is viewed by everyone but myself, not the face I used to spend minutes staring at as a vain teenager for inexplicable reasons; also visible in this same frame of reflection, my prized bookshelf — same height and length as the closet door jamb — that contains stacks of my show pieces, stacks of varied height and width and content unbalanced, wavering, like multiple towers of Babel, and on the chest next to this shelf (also visible in the screen’s reflection), a leather bottle with strap like the water canteens used by parched desert explorers, a souvenir purchased in South America that can and did contain 750ml of bottom shelf whiskey for much too long a period of time in my stagnant, adult life, now empty; in the renewed screen in front of me, a variety of lit windows, some poetic, some fictive, some autobiographical, some trivial, all a bit delusional.

Of course, I am viewing all of these things upside-down.



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