25 January 2007 | Vol. 6, No. 4

Self-Portrait in a Chewing Gum Wrapper

Northbound to nowhere in November

or was it later and I was chewing

a piece of gum with such precision I thought

Goddamn I would make a beautiful

chewing machine. Every time I watch a movie

about human robots I constantly have to say to myself

You are not a cyborg, and sometimes simply

saying this is enough to get me through

the day. Everywhere I go everyone is telling me

in one language or another that the world

is going to end or that it ended back in 1984.

That book, they say, it already happened.

And grant you I understand what they mean, but I am

not a cyborg, You are not a cyborg. And if for no other reason

than my mother once told me when we were alone

that I was special, she knew, I continue to believe

in the essence of my subjective self. This is what

driving alone does to me. This is what

mothers do to children in general. And maybe

the world is over and maybe we're all

just computer functions, but even if that's the case

I'm still going for the high score in the video

arcade. Sometimes I think that's all that will be left

of us in the future. Two-hundred Pac-Man machines

with hundreds of three-letter initials, and all the numbers

corresponding. If nothing else it will look like the boxes

were consistently trying to say something to each other.

I am trying to say something to you, but I'm not sure

if it's coming out right. And I am driving north, but as of now

I don't know why. I keep aspirin in the glove box because

the world on days like this sometimes needs

a little incentive to lay off its inhabitants. I am not a cyborg.

You are not a cyborg. And you are not a cyborg either.

About the author:

Clay Matthews's work is published (or will be) in Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, LIT, Backwards City Review, CrossConnect, Coconut, H_NGM_N, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Muffler, is recently out from H_NGM_N B_ _KS.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Clay Matthews at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 6, No. 4, where "Self-Portrait in a Chewing Gum Wrapper" ran on January 25, 2007. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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