Best of the Net 2008  

Manic Panic

If you lie still and concentrate, you can forget
            your body and float like a balloon to the ceiling

                        where plaster stars prick like thumbtacks.
So scoured out, you can’t feel anything,

            like the pink-haired girls who butcher their arms.
                        Come down. There is no merit badge

for levitation. You can leave your body,
            but it will pucker and fall eventually, snagged

                        in bare branches, which like antennae
receive signals too high-pitched for us to hear.

            How sad, everything, and how inexpensive
                        to say it out loud. The hills smoke

like a motherboard. Feeling bad has never felt
            better, think the green-haired girls who brand

                        the smiles of lighters into their thighs
and wear striped stockings so tight, the stripes distort.

            You’re not like them. They’re still trying to live
                        the days of Manic Panic and bar marquees

where all the Ls were sevens. How sad, everything,
            and how cheap to say it out loud. The hills smoke

                        like mothers, like purple-haired girls.
Stretched taut, filled with nothing, you rise.

-Maggie Smith (failbetter)