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austin hayden


Bring It All Together & Be Awesome


My brother showed me everything. How to hit his Skylark bumper with the Crass logo. Sew a patch or two. Reminded me wind goes woosh. Back in high school, a cute drama geek I liked said, not to me but on stage, “Don’t venture far. We’re a family now.” Ever go numb from seeing another face? That’s me right then. Been dragged past a different kind of heart throbbing? Me. Right then. In my brain, we meet again today. We kiss so I can extend tongue to air, saying my line, that I stole from my big-bro, “Dust tastes better all of a sudden!” That would so work. But she’s nowhere. My mind often goes you should Facebook her. Then no you shouldn’t. What I do instead is I jot myself notes. Always will. My brother says art is something personal cluttering, but you’ve got to share it. Here’s one. Dear Austin. Ruminate on this: the younger you stunk. Try something new. Picture a peacock traipsing across empty coffin velvet. Chuck a snow globe of Arizona, your home state. Find a sailboat and light it aflame. Remember when you shut the freezer door with enough umph to shake the whole refrigerator? Your brother’s glass boot came crashing down. My point: your body works so hard for you. Why? We don’t know yet. Battle battle not battles, rather war not wars. Or hold mouth open and see. Get the boat, the blaze. The Buick, the wind.




McHale’s Last


I eat through a straw. Happy Meal in the blender. Processed food processed. My mouth: Opened set of French doors, single ivory Chiclet smack-dab – my last front tooth. My half-sister got me into remote control airplanes at twelve. They soar. I command them simply and do so, as I do most things, without fear or inhibition. I have done morning announcements. Never felt nervous. In the sky my creatures are tricky. I can loop-di-loop around a tree branch in the fall. This is all true, I’m telling you, except I cannot land one. The miracles I unleash in blue are worth nothing fronting greeny brown. I’ve split my own nugget, knocked teeth clear out, spat gore. In class today, I sat by a girl in a weird-color shirt. She must have teased the What in the Hell out of her hair. When the teacher gave us homework time, I used it to design new guns. My friends & me: the people who use graph paper instead of college ruled, write laughably small. If you see an excerpt of my bell ringers, squint. Typing, now, I cannot remember in my head how to hold a pencil. The image won't pop up. I could make a weird fist and position my fingers like so, but even then. I can fly a plane but can’t land. I have a retainer that holds my fake front teeth. I saw a cute girl in the Auditorium today. I watched her hike up her socks.






Austin Hayden lives on the White River in Muncie, IN. He is a fiction editor at NOÖ Journal, and he runs 90's Meg Ryan, an audio archive of new poetry, prose, and music. He is twenty-four.