Issue 29: Jordan Deveraux

Cold Water

I bought a jar of gooseberry jam to channel Chekhov because it made me feel literary

how in the story of the same name some friends get caught in the rain and in the shelter of a barn Ivan tells a story within the story which bores his friends Bourkin and Aliohkin to death

I think Chekhov’s message is that to get people to pay attention a story needs to have a gun or a pair of tits not morals

oh and the gun needs to go off

unless it’s a French movie French movies tend to get a pass on these kinds of things*

nowadays there are a lot of tv shows about how communes fail to live up to their ideals which are high but mostly expose their leaders as megalomaniacs and money schemers

lately I’ve found myself suspicious of good intentions is that cynicism or wisdom

at the same time I ignore war and the guy on the subway and my neighbor screaming at her daughter who is always crying

my mother screamed a lot and once threw me into a freezing cold shower to cool off and look at me I turned out okay

I told a student to shut up after he called another student a fat bitch and I don’t regret it this also a kind of morality

inside every story another story sings explosive as a gooseberry

we convince ourselves it is sweet even when it is bitter

we do this by ignoring the suffering of “the masses” according to Ivan’s story

thank god no one says “the masses” anymore

it sounds like a large boil on the thumb of society which I think is the intention

still you can buy a commemorative stamp with Lenin’s face at the collector’s store on Myrtle avenue but it will not take your letter very far

I have friends who insist he had some good ideas but I can’t say either way

instead of reading about 20th century history I watch French movies with Susannah about late 20th century angst and disaffected youth

* in the French coming-of-age film Cold Water a teenager purchases a bag of dynamite that never goes off

then he follows his girlfriend to a commune but they never reach it at the end of the movie she leaves him naked on a riverbank

this is when his “real life begins” according to the filmmaker

the implication is he will never see breasts again

like Ivan’s brother he will become a crapulent landowner who is satisfied with putting off the revolution

so long as the gooseberries pop in his mouth like fireworks at a Bastille Day celebration

Chekhov falls asleep

my neighbor is crying and my mother is calling

for lunch this afternoon I think I will have toast

[Jordan Deveraux’s poems have been published in a handful of places. He enjoys skateboarding, delis, and libraries. He works and plays in Queens.]

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