“Blake Griffin” and “skull emojis”

by Eric Wang

Eric Wang is a queer writer residing in Scarborough. He is the 2021 recipient of the E.J. Pratt Medal in Poetry, and his work can be found in PRISM International, CV2, The Puritan, and elsewhere.

At the bar, someone insists Blake Griffin is overrated and something rises in me to defend him

i concede that in his career’s twilight years he may no longer be who he once was, but to speak of blake griffin is, still, to speak of wind and thunder, the very concept of lift and descent and power and what i mean by this is when i think of blake griffin i am specifically thinking of blake griffin dunking in the same way that when i imagine hou yi and chang’e what i see is hou yi shooting down nine scorching suns with his arrows and chang’e morphing into a swan and soaring onto the moon for no reason but love and one wonders what the dangers are of making a myth out of a man and yes i have been told that in the 2011 dunk contest blake griffin only jumped over the hood of a kia as opposed to the very top of it but all i remember is that blake griffin dunked over a goddamn car and in my memory that car may as well have been a waterfall cascading from the legendary mountain that carp scale in their efforts to become dragons and the basketball one of nine suns falling from the heavens and the truth is that one day my friend was joyriding and then the next he was in heaven and at the funeral we joked that he might have been faster than god’s indiscriminate hands and at the funeral i said we had always been as if brothers but by that time we had not spoken in years and therefore i must still believe there is a love that resides in telling someone else’s myth even if it is truthfully my own. what i wanted to say at the bar was that most of us are overrated, held aloft by the very tenderest of another’s delusions—no one better in this world might’ve stood in our respective places.


On the internet, skull emojis are being used to denote laughter

I must imagine that there’s a certain logic to this, that the bones really could be laughing, because my uncle-who-was-not-really-my-uncle-but-my-mother’s-oldest-friend used to laugh about how every year this would be the year he’d save enough money to fly to Italy and watch Andrea Bocelli sing, and then my not-uncle died. Back when my mother asked him what’s the point—there’s YouTube, he answered but it’s not the real thing and there’s something to be said about spending the entire last half of one’s life listening reverently to that which is not quite the real thing and that something can maybe also be said about how my not-uncle taught himself to fix cars with the idea of helping people go places for money to go places but could never afford to go anywhere. My not-uncle once told the story of how he and his late wife fell in love to Bocelli’s “Il mare calmo della sera” which is beautiful because it translates to the calm evening sea and even though a song of the sea is not quite the sea, I pictured his and his love’s hands intertwining like fronds of kelp beneath water, both of them laughing at how awkwardly a procession of crabs scuttled along the shore. There were so many seas for my not-uncle to touch, but more cars to fix, people with places to go, bones with their unending ache, and how could that be the real thing? Praise be to the potentiality of the skull emoji’s mirth. Praise be to anything in this so-called life that lets me imagine two skeletons laughing by the sea, rattling each other’s xylophone rib cages with their calcified fingers, whittling tibias into flutes, my not-uncle and his love remembering the last time they got to enjoy the real music of another’s body.

 


Eric Wang is a queer writer residing in Scarborough. He is the 2021 recipient of the E.J. Pratt Medal in Poetry, and his work can be found in PRISM International, CV2, The Puritan, and elsewhere.

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