go to content

Ted McGrath for BuzzFeed News

Posted on

May of that year.

He awoke one morning alone in a basement 6:35 am.

It was a windowless room

a work day

& above him the network of red pipes he’d begun

to consider his yes men.

His alarm?

“I Fought the Law.”

Sonny Curtis and the Crickets’s 1960 single as recorded

in 1979 by The Clash.

A song he deliberately uploaded illegally

in order to what?

Vex himself each morning 6:35 am on the work days?

Provide himself

with the necessary anguish to get out of bed?

Dog-ear ad nauseum

his insuperable, po-faced disgust that being born working class

is being born ruled?

And the law won, he turned off the song.

That was him clothing himself in the mirror,

that was him buttoning his collar

& each morning he’d take stock of himself:

-split ends dying off in clumps

-chipped tooth will this make me unfuckable

-inherited this nose from father this scrawn

May of that year

he began to debate killing himself.

Debate not contemplate.

A French voice

& somewhat cauterized

& he’d debate with the voice like some people debate

with their tax collectors.

Waste of a man ? it would ask.

They seldom agreed but agreed

on one problem.

Language exists

because blood, because teeth,

because hair.

Because skin, because bone, because atria,

because ganglia & cartilage & intestines & nerve endings.

These miscellany we call a person

they can’t answer

for the names that we’ve given to them.

And this morning the list of demands was simple.

Waste of a man, said the voice.

Strike from yourself

these names that you’ve given yourself

and name each part of yourself once again.

And finish yourself

room by room, said the voice.

Like you were naming a common slum.


Danniel Schoonebeek is the author of American Barricade (YesYes Books, 2014) and Trébuchet, a 2015 National Poetry Series selection published by University of Georgia Press in 2016. A recipient of a 2015 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from Poetry Foundation, recent work appears in The New Yorker, Poetry, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.

Danniel Schoonebeek is the author of American Barricade (YesYes Books, 2014) and Trébuchet, a 2015 National Poetry Series selection published by University of Georgia Press in 2016. A recipient of a 2015 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from Poetry Foundation, recent work appears in The New Yorker, Poetry, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.

Contact Danniel Schoonebeek at saeed.jones+poetdannielschoonebeek@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.