an online poetry journal

Photo by Melissa Hotchkiss


by Laura Dixon

Some things I cannot master. Roofing,
for one. I made it as far as the tear-off,
but tar and nails are depressing

as Greek drama, car commercials,
all designed to teach you
what your best efforts won’t amount to.

Mostly I remember driving a nail through
my shoe. I walk straight into tragedy,
burn myself every time

on my microwave dinners. I don’t believe
in steam or steel, despite the object lessons.
On the bus a guy with a cane said I smelled

like tar. The Jesus-fish symbol on his neck
stretched around the word BLIND. I thought
maybe I should brand myself TRAGIC

or something else hopelessly binding.
He asked me what I was building.
I’m through. I swallowed my hammer

trying to pry out my eyes. I cast myself
down from the roof. To Hell with Jesus;
what would Oedipus do?

Poet's Statement: When I was living in Austin, TX, I rode the bus with a guy who had a tattoo of the word “BLIND” inside of an ichthys—a Christian symbol whose name derives from the ancient Greek word for fish. My mind aswirl with Ancient Greek and Christian traditions, I adopted the persona of this would-be roofer with an overblown sense of personal tragedy and made his monologue a highly ironized, darkly humorous, and self-indulgent performance that escalates everyday woes to cataclysm and makes utter ruin appeal: sometimes we don’t want to be saved; sometimes we’d rather lean into defeat.

Bio: Laura Dixon has an MFA in poetry from the Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin, where she also served as Associate Editor of Bat City Review. Her work has appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Notre Dame Review, DMQ Review, The Cortland Review, RHINO, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. She lives outside Chicago and teaches high school English and creative writing.