Make No Plans

Tanner Boyle



»Now you wake. Now you work. Now you lay yourself down.

Another day gone up like smoke.»

Albert Goldbarth »Burnt Offering»




Idle hands

rip apart the grandstands

and someone from Suriname

has the surname Smith.

Who knew?

All right, enough distractions,

it’s time for me to tell you

that Jessica Alba has so many

connections to my life that

she’ll never even know about.

Inside jokes,

and outside jokes,

nostalgic movies,

song titles and even




I’m getting sentimental again.

Make this stop.




My life is a lifetime movie

and perhaps that’s why I hate myself,

and if I close the door

I’ll never have to see the day again.




My life is a piece of

forged artwork.

Not Matisse, not Picasso,

not Dalí, not Van Gogh,

but some obscure piece of

abstract colors flung over

a canvas of cardboard

by some unknown artist

living under a Kansas bridge

with no place to call home.




A sweet reprise,


Get your head out of the oven.




My life is a boat upon

the dead sea which

keeps bumping into scrolls

but never stops

to pluck them out and know

my life’s true meaning.




Melanie goes to the mirror and stares at the melanomas as they move across her skin, a white sheet in a dark room covered with dark blotches of moments she should have avoided. They reminded her of some alien flick she had seen where the protagonist chased alien insectoid creatures all over his body but could never catch them.

She didn’t see me walk in and she screamed when she caught a glimpse of me in the mirror. I showed little reaction, this has happened before.

She laughs at her mistake and I try to chuckle back.

She tells me a story in the past-tense, but whether it is of an event in the near or distant past, she does not mention and gives no clue as to its importance. Something about snicker doodles and the way they made a woman named Elisha’s throat swell up whenever they are within ten feet of her.

Melanie tries to distract herself from the fact that she is Joan of Arc, the Virgin Mary and Margaret Thatcher reincarnate. I have caught her whistling show tunes on more than one occasion and she quickly hushes as if a wave of sorrow has gone over her when I walked in the room. I got the image in my head of a thrush being choked by my very hands.

I have to leave her.

»Melanie,» I said, »we’re sinking.»

She glances up from her trance she had been in. She always gets them from telling her stories in that long drawn-out fashion she always tells them in. She beckons me with squinting eyes, what?

I can’t respond, I just turn away and pretend there is an orchestra backing me, playing lush and bombastic passages as I leave her standing there in the bathroom, no doubt with the same beckoning face.

This is my life.

I cannot stand success, as people tell me far too often. I cannot bear to be loved by someone I don’t fully understand. I don’t understand anyone. So take these gifts, I’ve left behind, I hope that you find them satisfactory.

To Judith: paranoia.

To Melanie: a piece of me.

From (and this is for both of you now): your secret admirer who cannot bear the sound of the laughter he conjures.