Metatron Prize


for Rising Authors

 

 

 

 


Jakob Maier


Happy Hour in the

Decline of Civilization

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jakob Maier is a poet and artist in Syracuse, NY. He is the author of the microchapbook Conversations (Ghost City Press, 2017), holds an MFA from Syracuse University, and is a poetry editor for Peach Mag.

 

 

 

 

Who are you and what’s your zodiac sign?
Hi! My name is Jakob Maier – I’m a poet (obviously), an artist, a poetry editor at Peach Mag, and a ghost banisher (long story). I live in Syracuse, where I do marketing for a local vegan mincemeat company (also a long story) and am working on a Kickstarter campaign for a DVD box set of me watching the intro theme song to every episode of the hit television show Friends. I’m a Gemini sun, Sagittarius moon, and my rising is in Virgo (I’m @goodtimejakob on CoStar).

 

What is Happy Hour in the Decline of Civilization about?
A ton of the poems in Happy Hour in the Decline of Civilization are about being with friends when the world feels like it’s ending. I write about the simple, every day parts of living that help me try to make sense of living with depression and anxiety in an eminently unstable world: cooking, board games, movies, dogs, happy hour. My focus, as I say in the title poem, is to “try living openly, with love & flawed senses / of time & responsibility. Habits like prayer.” Shouts out to my friends. Keep surviving.

 

Could you tell us a bit about the process of writing Happy Hour in the Decline of Civilization?
I wrote most of the poems in Happy Hour while I was studying for my MFA. After writing more breakup poems and reading more Robert Hass than I care to admit, two important things happened: Donald Trump was elected, and I found a box full of swords on my front porch. After that, it seemed clear to me that poems could have edges too, both to protect what I love and to cut away that which stops us from loving. So that’s what I tried to do, and Happy Hour is the result. (“messages,” the oldest poem in the book, is from before that though. I wrote it in the depths of a long distance relationship five years ago—my roommates came home from a One Direction concert and found me asleep on my open computer, the first stanza of the poem trailing off in dozens of pages of “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa,” because my glasses were jamming the keyboard. It was actually published on Metatron’s ÖMËGÄ blog a few years ago—thanks Ashley!) 

 

What are some books you’ve read and enjoyed lately?
I may be a little late to this, but lately I’ve been reading Maggie Nelson’s The Art of Cruelty and let me tell you, she’s got some strong words about swords. Faye Chevalier’s FUTUR.TXT has been on my bedside table for the last month too—Faye writes more convincingly and excitingly about technology and the body than anyone I’ve read, and I can’t recommend her book (or her
Twitter) highly enough. And I also love Words in Air, the letters from two of the most iconic friends in American poetry, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Right when they first met and started writing each other, their first hangout plan was to go to the zoo and see the otters. Now that’s what I call friendship.

 

Anything else?
I’m @goodtimejakob p much everywhere!

 

 

 

 

 

ANGRY REACTS ONLY

 

It’s 2019 my friends
the year of sunglasses
& face masks for clear
skin & protest safety

 

It’s 2019 my friends
are publicly depressed
talking about promoted
posts for healthcare

 

Type ‘how’ & see
how it autofills—
how to be a happy person
how to sleep better

 

It’s 2019 my friends
work early mornings
spend afternoons in bed
to care for themselves

 

to read 2,000 words
on an internet trend
targeting children
or is that the country

 

which feels untouchable
like a beating heart
or the bullish belief
that anger corrupts

 

It’s 2019 my friends
I don’t understand why
I turn down a stranger
who offers to pray for me

 

who rightly points out
I could use the help
but hope without a fist
is a wolf without teeth

 

It’s 2019 my friends
take the bus to the mall
to practice self-defense
on roller skates

 

They wear all black
so when a blank profile
yells hate at them
their skirt is grave-colored

 

It’s 2019 my friends
live across the world
I wave when they pass
in planes overhead

 

Some nights I get so quiet
I hear my nervous system
humming like a spaceship
abducting me or wifi

 

It’s 2019 my friends
have no secrets
that can’t be sold
no privacy settings

 

no time at the beach
that can’t be monetized
we’re happy products
I buy books at night

 

It’s 2019 my friends
are happiest when sleeping
or posted up online
where it’s easy to jump

 

into the black hole
of good entertainment
I hold my accounts close
I budget for them like children

 

It’s 2019 my friends
I learn it’s okay
if one of us is bad
to tell them so

 

What is language for
if not to beat the king
into submission
but it’s not enough

 

It’s 2019 my friends
when it feels like
we’ve said everything
let’s ask new questions—

 

What time of day
do you charge your phone
What kind of dreams
do you remember

 

How many jobs
did you work last year
Would a guillotine tattoo
look good on my bicep

 

It’s 2019 my friends
I limit my time in bed
I write poems about money
I post angry reacts only

 

 

 

HAPPY HOUR IN THE DECLINE OF CIVILIZATION

 

It’s four o’clock & my battery is charged.
They’re killing people just for existing.

 

I have ten friends in happy close proximity.
This world is our favorite one. We decided

 

this together like declaring independence.
What do you do to keep yourself happy.

 

I live openly, with love & flawed senses
of time & responsibility. Habits like prayer.

 

Come to the bar with us. It’s right down
the tunnel. You know, we’re like the light

 

at the end of it. Our little money serves us
as usual. I see it in the electron microscope

 

of imagination. Television screen of youth.
News like magic. I was born watching those buildings

 

fall over & over again. We do so many things
to each other without even thinking.

 

Who do we hurt. Why do we do it to them.
Pretty sunrise over the body-fields of capital.

 

What does the faded carpet of history think
of me, trudging my black-soled boots every

 

which way. What does the satellite think
as it plunges into space carrying our music

 

& laughter, a few dead men’s signatures.
What is there to do but kiss each other

 

into existence, to lean into the wind like dogs
in the great big truckbed of this world,

 

filled up with drinks, tarp-wrapped ideals,
more plants than any one house can handle.

 

We pay our bills because we have to. We rise up
& give our tips. We could keep rising up.