We admit we are powerless over dystopia. We are not born inherently good or bad but dystopic. Within each of us hibernates an inevitable rumble in the stomach, a shame-shit in a public restroom. In order to reach utopia, we need to stop feeling ashamed about our disposition and treat babies as if they’re also dystopic, not adorable planted dogs incapable of acting human. They’ll grow up to realize no one is going to pick up their shit.
Shame-shitting is actually shape-shifting, a phenomenon where we become strangers to our friend in the next stall. We may sound familiar, like we’re Dignity Control ripping off Destiny’s Child, but we are not in fact who we are, rather a power bigger than ourselves and our shit-boxes expelling acid. This power bigger than ourselves is a stone chandelier hanging as a mobile over the aforementioned babies; we bear the weight, so they don’t have to. Someday, though, they will go on a date in a fancy hotel and be alarmed by their own rumbling. Disposition dystopic? No, this time only a pair of vibrating panties. Next time, however, they will shit and shit next to someone who is not their date but feels like a spiritual manifestation of their date listening to their private parts go wrong. Thus, they will transcend themselves into stone like their ancestors and forever after dodge questions about whether they’re fossils, whether they exist. The point is, we need to believe this exists.
“Reckoning” is unavailable to us because its many meanings do not mean anything, and the word is actually hidden inside the many jewels of the stone chandelier, reckoning why it’s hard for us to turn over to nature. In order to reach utopia, we need to break open stone to break open reckoning (from Old English gerecenian, meaning “to recount, relate”).
Breaking open stone only creates more stones and more reckoning. We need to recount, relate to, and come to terms with more things than ever before, as we slide chanderlierward utopia.
We need to create a fearless moral inventory of ourselves. A mild cigarette or a mild bout of biting one’s nails is like a mild Declaration of Independence or a mild God who’s now the same person as his evil brother. No, the inventory must contain strong cigarettes, strong nails, strong shits as if we were riding out a strong road with strong friends who were also creating inventories.
The next step is to admit to the power higher than ourselves the exact nature of our wrongs. No, admit the exact nature in which we wish to live, transcending the shit-stained economy with our liberal dyspeptic tummies, no longer cured with painting it over, covering it up with TUMS, covering it up with SMUT. A detained body is no different from a detonated body. When it is not free, it is at war. When it is not free, it is stray. It isn’t able to create homes for its senses in the sun’s path. There must be a bridge a bridgement of the apathy we’ve slept ourselves into.
Transcending our public shits to a higher power may be the way to feed new life, but the process can go astray. “Higher,” to some, is synonymous with bigger and more powerful, but the chandelier is not bigger or more powerful than someone’s lifted strawberry-dress two stalls down. It can be used as entertainment for a baby or as a weapon, but not as light. We give it power by feeling entirely ready to have it remove the dystopic within us, the dystopia we’ve created outside of us. To get there, we have to meditate on a baby’s shit reversing its direction and returning back into the baby’s body through a higher power. In that way, the baby becomes a reversible sweater.
We humbly ask the chandelier, which now lives inside us and our babies, taking over the appearance and function of alveoli—for rapid gas exchange—to remove our shortcomings. To first remove the soft but noisy shits, the easily breakable shells littered over our stone, and the recyclable within us. Then, to dispose the wasting of food, paper, water, and electricity before improperly disposing of it. Finally, to take care of car and air travel, so that all fumes are organic fumes.
Only then we create a list of the people we have harmed with our shit. Usually, these people are those with whom we have lived. Sometimes we can become chandeliers in our own home if our roommates are particularly nosy or can tell time, but it is far more likely we will be reckoning with our new form in front of an unfamiliar audience willing to hang us. However, just to be safe, whenever we move in with anyone new, we must establish a time-rule: under 35 minutes I’m shitting and you can't know; over 35 minutes I’m dead, and you should probably know. In either case, we have to be willing to make amends with our list.
We do not actually make amends. If we're human, making amends with other humans only brings them injury and makes them numb. We press delete not only on what happened but also on their pain. They end up as bobble-heads scattered in a field of straw, and we have never been to this field. It is where they are born. The most we can do is outlined in #9: be willing to make amends. Don't throw out my bingo card—a poem. Because now we’re old, and they’re still holding a grudge.
We are coming down to the wire. It is the type of wired our brains feel when grappling with technology or commoditization or war or environmental war or shame-shitting. We are living in a time that’s as much utopic as it is dystopic, but even in utopic time there's nothing to prevent us from shitting. There is, however, a filtration system to keep us from judging—bringing night to the ears and nose. We pray and meditate to the weight on our shoulders, so that, through imparting its knowledge, it can bring us back down to a renewed body. A body of babies soaked in wildflowers. And if we don’t want babies, if we don’t want a daughter who’s been hurt but is resilient, who enters a fancy hotel ready to love again, no one takes it personally.
Karolina Zapal is an itinerant poet, essayist, translator, and author of Polalka (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018). Her second book, Notes for Mid-Birth, is forthcoming from Inside the Castle in late 2019. You can read more of her work at www.karolinazapal.com.