Experimental Prose, Frankie Balzano
I dream of dumb Adonis.
My golden retriever in the shape of a boy, Jason.
For seven years we have shared this apartment, his dog heart thudding loud, Pound Puppy eyes
beckoning. I have never loved anything that I couldn’t kick, and Jason always bounds right back
up those stairs.
My bartender, my priest, my golden boy.
How I wish to strangle the light from him, to wring the delicate color from his fur with my
I am his architect. I am his butcher. Break and build and break him again until he comes out new.
I create you, Jason, and ruin you too.
Love like this is alchemy, Jason.
You, the golden light that emits from my fat black heart. Come here, my vile Icarus.
Beat those waxen wings to my solar center, melt like the foolish thing you are into the sea.
And with steady hands I’ll gather you, your salt, your foam.
I will raise you from the darkness henceforth you came and return you to my light, suspended in
the beam of it in golden bits.
Nurse you back to become again, like always. This is the gift I give you, Jason.
You the burden I choose to carry.
Or this time, maybe not.
What would it be like to follow the wreckage through this time, Jason?
What is desire without consummation?
There comes a time for God to ask himself, have I been too merciful?
Before I was God, I was Brett.
First, I was just Brett. Overlooked. A wallflower, if you will.
A lean, dark thing with the pained eyes of a war orphan, though it hadn’t been a war I lived
through, no. My ruin was homegrown. My gaping wound is the suburbs of Minnesota. My
gaping wound is a mother who loved too much. I was raised by a bovine binge eater and a brute
of a man who ran off with an Applebee’s waitress. But this isn’t Lifetime, so, fuck off. What
patriarch isn’t starting a franchise? What feminine doesn’t seek to consume? Who gives a shit?
So from this slanted home I grow crooked. In fourth grade, our aging maltese, Pop Tart, loses her
eyesight. She navigates our McMansion by pressing her body against the floral papered walls,
crawling low. That is how I live my school days: I press against the wall and crawl low. I render
bullies invisible with my mind. I take a vow of silence. Words fail the ferment within me, and no
one is worth my breath anyway.
In my solitude I become solipsistic. My gaze becomes an Apollonian one, a linear trajectory
piercing through the horizon of the school yard, erecting form in this barren, banal land. No
friends, no problem: I have all the time I need to become a genius. All the time I need to
transform my spite into something like power the way a warlock turns his piss to gold.
I become something of a hunger artist. Rejecting meals to overcome my own drive to consume,
to terraform my own biology. I impose my will on my own decaying matter. Nothing as mundane
as a meal will anchor me in suburbia. My ascetic refusal of earthly pleasures is my path to
ascension. I learn to resent all things soft or ripe. I see the bloated bodies of my classmates in the
cafeteria, the mall food court, the McDonald’s parking lot. Their excess feels a personal insult, as
if the grease on their mouths is a transgression against all that I’ve cultivated. The unforgiving
stench of meat emanating from them forces me to turn my head until my guts unclench and I
swallow back the bile fighting its way from my body.
Slowly I transform my body into a paring knife. I have just turned seventeen and my jawline is
one chiseled by the gods themselves. Just Brett is cast out of my new body the moment that he
spots me at Bruegger’s Bagels. He is a photographer from my side of the Twin Cities, and I’ve
happened to catch his eye. His gaze strips me, separating the Brett from the Body. I am aware of
my own movements through his eyes, and time disjoints. It's at this moment that I’m made a
worthy Object, that I realize my own beauty.
In the city, he takes my picture, and I begin earning my own keep. He’s skillful with the artifice
and the artifact, as good a liar as he is with his lighting. He frames vulgar flesh with technical
fantasy, turning motel porno into something avant-garde. My devastation proves to be a profit
powerhouse. I end up in print, then the video circuit. Soon, I can afford my own Honda Civic, a
duster coat, tickets to the movies and not just matinées. I am made.
Women notice me and I become a contender, a precocious Cassanova. I get all the gin and pills I
want. I tip them back and muffle the world out. I loom in the foreground of it like a God. I move
like smoke through the fog I weave. I’m the paring knife cleaving through ripe flesh, through
soft folds. My skin crawls, but I am no longer crawling low. I become something of a local
sexual phenomeonon all through my senior year.
I am made Brett, Midwestern MILF Slayer. It stays this way, and it could have stayed that way.
But all things pass. I had not even begun to peak, but my boy, my burden, my Jason derails my
Both of us are business majors at the university, assigned the same dorm freshman year. He’s all
broad shoulders and sinew, taller than me by a few inches. But with his earnest, open face, he’s
more flower than boy. Like a daisy, so innocent, so easy to pluck apart. Doesn’t he know the
danger he’s in? He knows nothing of what lurks in the shadows of this city. I let him cling to me.
Like folding a wing over him, I take it upon myself to guide him.
Any chance at greatness melts along with the dissolution of Brett into JasonAndBrett. My duty to
protect him drains me of any sinister ambition. I fly low until I land among the living. I partake
in pizza nights. I attend keg stands. I am initiated into some semblance of boyhood. My life
becomes unrecognizable as I gain friends, gain weight, gain professional connections. Any void
in me should be filled, now.
We graduate. We get email addresses. We move in together. We take the jobs at the bank before
we sink our savings into the bar. We become entrepreneurs. We share a life.
Jason turns me mortal. I resent him for it now. Here, a happy ending in which I atrophy.
I could have reigned over a dominion of my own creation, but instead I’m hemmed in by pathetic
puppy love. Surrendered to suburban mediocrity. Gridlocked in traffic as the late afternoon sun
glares through the windshield, I feel my body soften. I lay on the horn and scream my throat raw.
Siouxsie sings of a new vocation in life / my love / with a knife
I know this.
I know that a love like mine is an incision, to accept it is to be vivisected.
I’m the paring knife, Jason, and in my dreams, it is you that I drain, I peel, I wreck.
I dream of your muscles, tough and gamey between my teeth.
I know the second that you speak, you will shatter this.
Jason, ruining it all with your need-want, your want-need.
The moment you want me to need you, the moment I need anything outside myself, I shatter.
Brett, ruining it all with his wiring,
A boy wired all wrong.
I let down, I damn us both, I draw you near just to cast you out.
Jason, climb into my mouth, my empty chest, and reside there.
I’ll swallow your flesh, entomb you within my gut.
I’ll spend eternity metabolizing this love.
Frankie Balzano (they/he) is a queer poet and grotesque storyteller weaving weird tales in Olympia, Washington. They are the author of the chapbook Spider Rodeo (Bottlecap Press, 2022). Their work has appeared in Sunday Mornings at the River Press, Angel Rust Magazine, Driftwood Press, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Oyster River Pages, among others. You can find their work on their website at frankiebalzano.com and hang out with them on Instagram @holyfool.jpg