“This Is The Last Time” by The National
I rode on a bus from Palm Springs to catch a train in Fullerton whose route ended at L.A’s Union Station. I spent New Year’s Eve and the first five days of the New Year at Slab City living out of a converted mini-van. I stumbled in the middle of the night under the moon’s afterglow in the softer sand, forgetting how to find the spots I marked during the day in the sun-marked cacti & creosote I grouped by proximity. I lost my bearings, land where nothing is provided or expected, untethered as passenger in the empty promise of “this is the last time”; the incantations roused paralysis, “we were so under the brine, we were so vacant,” to wake in a fever, upbraiding the self into emergence: “I won’t be vacant anymore, I won’t be waiting anymore.” Displacement from time, the ones loved most, is an expected circling—rapturous in the abrogating circles drawn with bodies around other bodies—that can be broken. On the bus’ path with mountains alongside to the right, I wanted to sing out in unison, bring the spell of presence into me, yield to the thoughts that I “can’t get…out of me,” though Berninger’s final confession, “Baby you left me sad and high,” reminds there is always cost, and what’s lost always ends up matter-ing.
Julie Kantor is a PhD student in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin where she works on bodies, affect, cosmetic procedure, and reality television. Her poetry has been published in Boston Review, A Public Space, Maggy, and Foothill. Her chapbook, LAND, is forthcoming from Dikembe Press.
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Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.
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