From Tommy Pico’s Book-Length Poem, Junk

“How can 'happiness' be anything more than a metaphor for privilege.”

May 9, 2018  By Tommy Pico

The following is adapted from Tommy Pico’s book-length poem, Junk.

Just who owns the attraction passing between bodies We say
neurons “fire” because a frame of mind needs the border of

poetry Something fuzzy buzzing Your face glows coastal, leaves
me feelin fine as the powdery shoreline at low tide Dummy all

our lives we are the wavelengths of light who escape the negative
space Urge toward sunset scattered roadways, morning haze,  

and the gusting forward of time Oh shut the fuck up Voices
change How dare you tether me to lines I wrote in like 2009 

Goin over yr Junky poems huh? Do you ever wish you cd just be
always one self? “Whole” is a privilege and a pedestal Whole

Foods has a delicious hot buffet Red alert Defcon 5 Deep Space
9 lol Clack, clack of expensive shoes slapping down the train

platform A car backfiring Sputter of gunfire on a Snapchat story
I don’t know where the feeling is or what to do with it n spent

most of the day in bed with my eyes squeezed shut but then I
we went to the park and ate a vanilla ice cream sandwich and

an empanada We went to the vigil n marched n held hands Got
pizza and played pool at a gay bar with John & Peter bc what-

ever season it is it will not be open season on my spirit And
then went to karaoke and after, I said I love you for the first

time in my life said it to someone I’m dating and you said I love
you so much and I know where that feeling is and what to do

with it It’s going all over the place How are the people most
fucked by society treated the absolute worst, and those most

coddled given the most opportunity How can “happiness” be
anything more than a metaphor for privilege Thus my

obsession with punchlines—stop me if you’ve heard this one:
Who will save your stole? This is a thot experiment and there I

go drooling When you nurse a crush for two years you become
a boss at being tipsy All that rub, no climax Let’s wait awhile  

before we go too far I thot falling in love was a burden A kind of
crowding on my landscape Love creates space, dummy Doesn’t

take it up Tangy harpsichord Crunching into a crisp pink lady
The sherbet swirls on these apples is maybe the most perfect

color in nature The perfect denim jacket is worn, rolled and
the color of heavy fog tumbling from the Pacific into the bay

“Love” is a soft fur trim The way old cotton wears thin on
broad shoulders A line of tiny buttons on a pair of purple wool

gloves With its fats and its salts and its sugars, Junk food was
designed not to satisfy I have a crush on this thrift store clerk

whose curly hair bowls when he belly lols I dunno what that
means, “perfect denim jacket” Just what I’d feel if I had it


Adapted from Junk, by Tommy Pico, courtesy Tin House, copyright 2018 Tommy Pico.

Tommy Pico
Tommy Pico
Tommy "Teebs" Pico is author of the books IRL (Birds LLC, 2016), Nature Poem (Tin House Books, 2017), and Junk (Tin House Books, 2018). He was a Queer/Art/Mentors inaugural Fellow, Lambda Literary Fellow in poetry, and NYSCA/NYFA Fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and he's the winner of a Whiting Award and the Brooklyn Public Library's Literature Prize. Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives in Brooklyn where he co-curates the reading series Poets With Attitude (PWA) with Morgan Parker, co-hosts the podcast Food 4 Thot, and is a contributing editor at Literary Hub.

More Story
Is There Such a Thing as Catskills Lit? The Catskills of upstate New York are defined by desertion. Long gone is Lenapehoking—Land of the Lenape—and gone,...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.