“lights/off” by Matt Clifford

If I masturbate in the dark
Can I avoid the bullets?
I don’t want to surrender
I’m manic with a positive message
and haven’t finished yet
Sometimes I can’t get it out

If I jerk off with the lights off
Can I avoid the judgement?
I’m sorry you were hurt
I’m sorry I don’t believe in God
I wish I had faith and hope for love for everybody
I wish we were perfect pillars of virtue
Sometimes I can’t get it up

If I spank under a blanket
Can I avoid the neighbors?
Everytime I think I lose it
Everytime I think I lose it
This is a crime of logic
The transcendence of pleasure
Interrupted by a bloodshot
We are just a shot away
Don’t look up
Don’t look down
Don’t look at me
Don’t open your eyes
They are coming

Where we aren’t

The nature of a body is to be a target
For love or violence
Love is contaminated by violence
Love is violent
It breaks us open and fear falls out
It goes on, gets


Burns the life out of

Hidden organs
It goes on, gets


Boredom is violent
Without love
It needs more
Love can be demanded but no one has to listen
There is a man outside my door unknocking
I gave him the trigger and the reason
If I want to go outside I have to walk past him
If I want to masturbate I do so in his presence
If I want to fuck I have to embrace that he hears goodmmmness
& now I want to stick my dick up the barrel of an assault rifle
Safety off gunpowder lubricant fingers tickle cup stock
Pull it you bitch pull it
Who is going to blow first
No good night kiss

broken expectations of the heart

I am in a co-dependent relationship with the army
Against my will
I cannot get out of it
They are unstable and deadly with an abusive father
I met them when I was young,
My parents introduced us
They made an impressive entrance
Dolls for boys and force
I played, became what I hated, stayed
I accept the actions of my history
So I roll over after submitting
Stomach perversions for the sake of my own fetishes
Wait for the lights to turn off
Finish myself
Bury evidence
These tissues are wasted
I flush them down the toilet like a defense mechanism
Wonder if they are searching the sewers yet
What drugs they will find there and where I can get some

I will die before I get that
I will die before my fingers get tired
I will die full of music
There is comfort in the saved frustration of unreleased spirits
It may be implicit panic but they never took it
I will make them take it back and die by my empty hands

matt clifford

Matt Clifford is a poet and musician living in Denver, CO. He makes a lot of noise and responds well to flattery. He is 1/3 of a band called Black Market Translation. They play improvised punk music that vibes well with poets and you can watch if you want to. It’s called Punketry. For more Matt Clifford trivia, please visit mattclifford.org.

Author Photo by Matt Diss of ALOC Media

Featured Image by Shane Rounce

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