Baby I’m a disposable camera. Baby you stop me dead in my tracks, burn a hole in my brain. Baby I’m your biggest fan, I’m wearing your t-shirt, can’t you read the pop-calligraphy? — can’t you recognize your own handwriting? Baby I’ve got filing cabinets full of dreams you wrote, my office is dripping with dream-juice, my hands are holding fresh dollar bills, ready to spend on you. Baby you make it all seem worthwhile, you get me out of bed in the morning, you make the coffee taste hopeful, you make me leave the house with confidence and go to the office where I fill cabinets with dreams of you. Baby take these handcuffs off of me, now put them back on. Baby your picture exposes the end of what I desire, which is the beginning of what I desire, a road paved in dreams. Baby the cacti are singing me road directions. Baby I’m confused, the world is changing — quick, tell me something I can trust for even a second because I can’t come up with anything good. Baby stop hiding in the utility closet. Baby stop looking like an angel. Baby don’t open your mouth, don’t ruin the suspense we’ve worked so hard to sustain. Baby my hair is standing on end, my nerves scrambling to catch up with you, playing possum in the moonlight. Baby the wise know their foolishness well. Baby you were cast in bronze, racing headlong toward me through a hot glass tunnel. Baby the glass is cracking, you’re humming in my ears like a flute. Baby thinking of you like this is a holy tradition at this point. Baby I see you across the room at the party, I can’t hear you, but from the look on your face I can tell what you’re talking about — you’re talking about finding the disease in me. Baby the world is hungry and so are we, but we’re harmless enough you and I — tadpoles in a puddle of tears. Baby you may be my baby but I feel just like a child when it comes to you, I’m trying to stay warm in the nest you built. Baby puke inside my mouth, tell me something I can strap my heart to with a horse-hide belt. Baby fire is quiet and painless and ice is a punishing screech in the wild. Baby our bodies are being destroyed and I can’t turn my eyes away from you. Baby I’m sorry for being dramatic but the world, inexplicable and cancerous, moves like an insect across the ceiling. Baby I hope I’m right on target, hope I’m reaching you clear. Baby are you tuned in? — is this making any sense? Baby our kingdom has epilepsy, we live in a sensitive fortress, we might have to smuggle ourselves out in disguise to survive. Baby my bones are wet, this isn’t like anything, we’ve never seen this before, a brand new configuration, flawlessly executed. Baby I’m catching all that I can catch, I’m even forcing it to try to save time. Baby I’m broke, do you know a place where I might find work? Baby do you have a job for me to do? — just say the word and I’ll be there with my scuba gear, ready to get disgusting. Baby why am I the butt of all your sly jokes swirling in the night air? Baby was that you on the side of a building, riding a golden wagon in the sunset? Baby you’re just over this hill, just around this corner, just through this door, I can see your shadow hinting safety from where I stand, I’ll follow the necessary logical steps. Baby we’re ruthless when we talk to each other, do we really believe it’s fun to drag this cruel contest out? Baby I have to go to the bathroom, if you don’t have an excuse to shut your eyes I’d be glad to give you one if it’ll help, because baby, I’m here to help. Baby we are commas in each other’s breaths, hitches in each other’s steps. Baby we only want to feel what we heard feels good. Baby let’s put on the rubber gloves and go on a rampage, we’ll have the town talking for weeks. Baby gossip flings off of us effortlessly: all we do is tell ourselves stories, we’re a force to be reckoned with. Baby what are we doing now? — let’s find another problem we can’t solve. Baby you remind me I’m not yet finished with the task at hand, your tent glowing on the mountainside, I can smell the smoke from the meadow below. Baby I’ll be there soon, don’t fall asleep yet, it’s cold outside, I’ll make my way up the mountain in the dark. Baby I have no way of knowing what I’ve done, I’m walking to you without a person to count on.

by Benjamin Gross

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