The doppelgänger strolls the flaccid streets in nothing
but a trench coat. In my peripheral, I see myself mostly
naked, mostly taller. There is no equivocation—no flick
of the wrist, sleight of hand, no migraine with aura.
The doppelgänger, however, has needs. Has needs like
wanting a slap on the ass, wanting to hear, like a prayer,
go get ‘em, slugger. The doppelgänger wants a mother
to say, wait till your father gets home. A mother who
drinks Bailey’s in her coffee straight through the evening.
Unarmed and malcontent, the doppelgänger brushes his
teeth with whiskey and trolls the night-fell streets in his
nudity, peeking in widows of unsuspecting widows.
From the corner of my lazy eye, I see a man not unlike
myself as if painted with charcoal, as if painted on the cave
wall of some foreclosed museum. I see a man not unlike
myself and I change the dials on the transistor radio. I weep
and panic, convincing myself he’s a turncoat, a coward.
Each time I see him, I imagine myself dying. Each time
he sees me, he asks for a buck, to bum a quick smoke.
The doppelgänger just wants to lose his first tooth on the last
subway car out of Boston. He wants, like nothing else,
to be wanted. He wants to be the wino’s hooch, the buzzard’s
roadkill, the jukebox, the last barstool on the far end.
Not the last person on the train platform holding a sign
that reads: Welcome home, Caroline! while a man
and a woman make love on a train straight out of Boston.
When I see the doppelgänger walking across the tarmac,
I wave my sign: One year sober! When he sees me,
he imagines himself dying at the bottom of a well or washed
up on the shore of some beach, like driftwood and dead
ocean things. In the shadows, I see someone else’s childhood
remnants: a tricycle parted because someone needed the money,
a kite with one string, and a one-eyed cat named Sampson.
In my childhood, the doppelgänger admires the floral wallpaper
and defunct potbelly shove. The sounds of doors not slamming.
At night I contemplate the omen that is the doppelgänger
passing out Bibles at the Blue Light Special. Each Sunday night,
the doppelgänger tongues the barrel of his pistol, swallows the bullet.
A TV buzzes a small commotion in every room of the house.
Eric Morris teaches creative writing at Cleveland State University and serves as a poetry editor for Barn Owl Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Whiskey Island, The South Dakota Review, Puerto del Sol, The Laurel Review, Pank, Post Road, Thrush, The Jet Fuel Review, The Collagist, Anti-, Devil's Lake, Redactions, and others. He lives and writes in Akron, OH.