In the old country, times got so bad for enough of our people that the government put up four huge walls to hide all the hard luck behind. There was no violence or midnight vanishing; if you lost too many jobs in one year, or if your heart was falling out and you couldn’t afford to get it shoved back in place, you could apply to be put behind the Partition and you’d be seen to right away. Sometimes, if you were really fucking up at being alive, they would even mail you about it, like one of those postcards that used to say that you had already won.
This was a popular program for many years, but some of us artisans in the college towns had opinions. Voluntary eugenics, we called it. Pure Aryanism. There was a lot of talk about scaling the Partition, blowing it up with fertilizer or maybe just standing on top of it until the media got our point. As for me, my ex-girlfriend had recently joined the circus and was almost definitely banging the ringmaster, so I was secretly thinking of crawling over to the other side to see about being seen to myself. Anyway, I told them I’d climb the damn thing and I sure as goddamn did.
There were no guards, no razor wire. It was nothing but the tallest, widest block of stones you had ever seen jutting out from the scorched grass into the late summer sky. By the time I got halfway up, my friends had quit gawking and run home. Work in the morning, they hollered. Armbands tomorrow. Night fell in long dull blue notes and I was alone until I vaulted over the top.
They all stared up at me. Every last one of them stared right back up at me like I was dancing on the only hook in the world.
Steve Subrizi sometimes co-hosts the Wednesday night poetry mic at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has performed his poetry at lecture halls and dive bars across America, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as NAP, The Scrambler, Muzzle, PANK, Phantom Kangaroo, NOO Journal, and Monday Night. His latest chapbook, Newly Wild Hedgehog, will be available from NAP in July. He plays in a band called The Crazy Exes from Hell.