Unemployment Diary, Day 16

I hold the remote just
so, it feels like her
indifferent wrist.

Television is the oven
I rest my head inside.

My own tragedy splits
in two when
the TV star’s fiancée is stolen
by his evil twin.

(Same actor, but the evil version
is somehow more handsome)

Our clubbed hero wakes, wanders
the new city of his amnesia.
He doesn’t know
who he is now

—just like me!

His fiancée’s doll eyes (green)
close mechanically when the evil
twin’s crooked smile twists
into its kiss—I can’t

stand it: I want to save her,
want to screw her, I don’t
know her. I click over

to another planet, which reminds me
I also lack the determination of this
indestructible superhero crawling
into the deadly alien radiation,
and the tension rises, until it spills

over into a hand soap demonstration,
making hygiene so piercingly
symbolic, I will never again feel clean,
no matter how many times she claims
what I did doesn’t matter…

I click back to these twins
I’ve become, now locked
in awkward combat. Each fist
strikes its own face, then a clenched
blade quivers between their throats,
and the music crescendos like

a toilet bowl swirl, sanitized bright blue,
giggling synthetic blueberry bubbles—
Good God, I need you.

I hear so vividly my evil
twin scream—sucked into
a fall we don’t see the end of—
and the black swallows him like a lozenge.


I am ready for my whiter teeth!
a new and improved
lover! A delicious hamburger!
I am ready for something
else to happen.
I keep clicking to find
a responsive sedan
to drive off a moonlit cliff,
into the applauding waves below.

Wheeler_photoVan doesn’t think his educational history should impress you, but he gave them a lot of money, so: he holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College. His manuscript won the 2012 Dorothy Brunsman Prize from Bear Star Press and was published as The Accidentalist. Some of his video poems can be seen on vandorenwheeler.com.