Dom Fonce is an undergrad' English major at Youngstown State University. His work has appeared in Ohio's Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology, 3Elements Literary Review, The Tishman Review, West Texas Literary Review, Obra/Artifact, The Magnolia Review, and elsewhere. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Volney Road Review.
The Elephant Man joins Tinder
The Elephant Man quickly learns that Tinder was never made for finding love, but for skin-deep
connections and outer shells more well-endowed than what God passed his way. The learning
curve of chase bares down and deplumes his nerves—he thinks of, in the event a date were to
pinpoint him, what he might do with his hands—or where his eyes best be kept: his father,
praying to produce a strong-backed charm of a boy, never taught him such things. His mother,
much too nice of a woman, could never be his mental model for the middling Tinder girl. And
we must admit it, being guilty of swiping left at his outcries for love. Or, swinging right to
sporadically message him every three-to-five hours for a total of three-to-five days, eventually
unmatching him. We’ve all been there. So, what is to be done with him? He, pariah, sent
underwater, overwhelmed by throngs of nothing—nowhere else has he been so alone
and the world so hushed. And his guests, those millions of shadowed men and women
foundering adrift in despondence, in a state no application can save: phobic of future and those
who may save it.
The Elephant Man's face is turned into a Halloween mask, and I buy one
off the Big Lots rack: plasticine clay, liquid latex, thickening gunk, paint that won’t smudge
away—that new mug smell. It suits me as I look at myself in the mirror. I rub the faux-boils, the
drooping eye, try to talk a groan, become the freak show. And soon I feel a tug on my own
cheeks through the continuum—fingers ridged and leathered running down every line of my
face, tracing my nose, the centimetered difference between my eyes, the width of my mouth—a
man in another dimension fitting me, modeling me, digging into my flesh like putty. Here, I learn
what the corn kernel feels in the kettle—esophageal blasting heat waves crawl a reddening
shriek, a pre-popped pod ready to burst, a mutating cell, an image being manipulated
in time. I succumb to the touch, a fair trade, thinking this must’ve been what Leila felt when
she and Joseph momentarily locked hands: Merrick hoping their connecting skin would conjoin
two worlds, and Ms. Maturin faking to the universe that her love was bountiful enough for such a
forbidding veil, just wanting to peek at mutilated wonder, to peer through the eyes of Hell alive.
Falling asleep awake
can never be like daydreaming. There, where space allows our futures
to appear upon a platter, where the mind is less caged and freer to hop the field. No,
falling asleep awake is for the ghosts—the specters of certainty and perhaps, the
transitional mess between life and death. In half lucidity, my father stands behind
me holding onto my shoulder, where you would be if you weren’t in front of me now,
and where red smells like birds chirping right outside my thunder-clomping window.
Can you hear me? Do you understand that falling asleep awake is for the children
when their parents have dozed off, thinking they’ve died? Like rugose limb rigor
mortis, that entrapment of eyes within sockets, and brain stationed straight facing sinful
film? No, it’s not daydreaming. There’s much too much wander in that fantasy. Here is
where I shake your hand and don’t, but feel it and see it drop beneath me like liquid.