Chad Anderson is a poet, teacher, father and skateboarder from the Jersey shore. His work has been published in The Barbershop Chronicles (Penmanship Books 2009) and Aim for the Head (Write Bloody 2011). Excerpts from his poetry have been quoted in The New York Times. He spends his weekends making videos. He hosts a reading series in Jersey and teaches community college.
On Nights Like These
On nights like these,
I like to
you looked at my page
too many times,
read the article even
though you didn’t agree.
Did you picture us arguing about it?
Did you think of the perfect response after
it was too late.
I like to imagine you
hate yourself for the fantasy,
not sure who you think less of but
thinking none the less.
I bet it still gets to you,
still gets you off,
even if only out of spite;
I wonder how many letters you haven’t written
but composed in your shower
that you quickly forgot when the faucet turned off.
How much water have you wasted
getting the wording just right,
knowing it was the wrong thing
Does it fog the mirror?
I wonder which parts you dry last.
I can tell myself
there are stories you don’t share with friends.
They never make sense;
an empty room of inside jokes.
Secrets you have nowhere to spill
Those vague updates
you put in quotes
so others don’t ask.
Have you underlined the words “someone” and “anyone”
in all the books you’ve read.
Does your diary refer to me by name?
I choose to tell myself
you rank me careful in the middle,
below someone taller with more tattoos,
above those who were too boring to breathe.
Anything more would be pathetic.
Anything less would be a lie.
Turn off your screen.
Put away the poem you’re writing.
Lay in bed
with the lights off
with your clothes off
Try to think about anyone
yourself for being so
“something” over “someone”.
On nights like these,
before you pretend to fall asleep,
indulge me one small request.
You and I can always share one truth
The absolute certainty
neither of us could possibly be thinking
about the other right now.
The Friends and Family Who Have Died In My Phone
I asked a coworker for Roger’s phone number years ago.
I don’t remember why I called
but I’m sure it was work related.
I remember he never answered.
He didn’t even return the call.
I called him a few years later,
this time by accident.
I was looking for a different Roger.
He never answered
Never said anything the next day at work.
Last year Roger died suddenly in his home.
At a show,
A stranger asked me for Blair’s phone number.
I think he assumed we were close.
At his request,
I leaned in and asked.
Blair thought I was hitting on him.
He texted me once before a gig
to tell me he was on his way.
That was the most we ever spoke.
His body was found in a Detroit hotel.
I still have both their numbers in my phone.
I’m not sure why.
I usually don’t keep things like this.
My grandmother used to send me a card
on holidays and birthdays.
It was my grandson duty to call and thank her.
I dreaded it.
I loved her,
but in a distant disconnected way.
We had nothing to talk about.
I cringed at the almost certain miscommunication.
The repetitive shouting match
between her hearing aid and my apathy.
If I were to call her now
only my grandfather would answer.
We have the same relationship.
This is sure to end soon.
When I broke up with my first girlfriend
I deleted her number that afternoon.
I pretended not to recognize it when she called.
My ex-wife still owns a number I bought for her.
I used to call her every day.
I have blocked out every digit.
When my father calls,
I let it go to voicemail.
I would be a better son if he could learn to text.
But these numbers,
this small graveyard I’m keeping in my phone,
What purpose does it serve?
What impossible contact am I hoping to receive?
I still have people living in my phone
I never bother to call.
I rarely answer when they do.
Because of my family history.
That is to say,
because I am a lot like my father.
Because I consider myself a good time
Because when we were younger,
my brother and I made each other a promise
that he never kept.
Because I’ve never called someone lover or friend
with my hand gripped around their throat.
Because I like what we said tonight
and I want us to have meant it tomorrow.
Because cars kill more people than guns in this country
and I’ve never owned a loaded gun.
Because someone has to drive you home.
Because when you ask me why I don’t,
I will tell you
and you’ll say
“Wow, I really respect you for that”
and when I ask you why you do,
I was calling to check on the status of my application. It’s been several weeks and I saw the position still being advertised. I realize you may have some questions about my resume particularly,
I don’t have any. But I make up for it with enthusiasm.
I have three references. They are all biased. The first one is my sister. I don’t have a sister. But she thinks I’m a fantastic older brother. She likes that I have a creative imagination and that I let her win at hide and seek.
The second is my dog. I think if anyone sees my potential to be outstanding it has to be him
He has taught me the nobility of begging for what you’re sure you deserve.
Also he likes making me chase the stick.
The third is myself. I know this job like the back of my eyes. I can do it with my hands closed. I wrote the mission. I’ll sleep in the stockroom.I work for free
I can be amazing.
No one is going to be better at being a father than me.
Stop interviewing other applicants.
I can start today.