A poem by Jean-Christophe Réhel

TEXT—Jean-Christophe Réhel

What do they say?
Life is like a bicycle
You have to move forward so you don’t lose your balance
Whatever I can’t ride a bike anymore because of my cyst
I want to show you a fruit basket
All the punches in my neck
More smog
I go out anyway
Who gives a shit
I put on my kimono
I’m looking for the tatami
I can’t find it
I’m in Lavaltrie
My brother-in-law’s son is five years old
He calls me Mononcle JC
He wants me to go swimming with him
I don’t want him to see my back acne
I tell him I don’t have a bathing suit
I lied
I’m wearing it now
In the end time doesn’t really solve anything
In the end smog gently stabs me in the head
It doesn’t bleed
At least not right away
I pray
Then I pray
Then I drink a cannabis lemonade from the SQDC
Saturday afternoon in the above-ground pool at my parents’ place
I’m in Repentigny
It’s my father’s birthday
My sister says I’m kind of a loser
For drinking a cannabis lemonade at my parents’ place
I’m stoned
I’m 32 years old
Floating on pool noodles
A bird flies over me
Shits on my knee
I can’t believe it
My sister laughs
She’s cracking up
She can’t breathe
I’m often alone
It doesn’t matter
I’ve got my imaginary friend
His name is Baby Yoda
In Pointe-aux-Trembles
A fisherman by the dock tells me a joke
This old couple goes to a fair and there’s a helicopter
The woman tells her husband:
Can we take a helicopter ride?
I’ve always wanted to
Angelo goes:
No, the helicopter tour costs fifty bucks
Fifty bucks is fifty bucks!
25 years later
Now the woman’s 85 years old
They’re at the same fair
The woman asks her husband:
Angelo, please, I’ve waited my whole life to take a helicopter ride
Can we go on the helicopter?
Angelo goes:
No, the helicopter tour costs fifty bucks
Fifty bucks is fifty bucks!
The pilot hears them and says:
You can take a helicopter ride
But if you say a single word during the tour
I’ll charge you fifty bucks
The couple agrees and gets on the helicopter
During the tour
The pilot goes all out
He pulls out all the stops to make the couple scream
He spins around
He flies in every direction
At the end of the tour
No one’s said a word
The pilot’s impressed:
Wow, I didn’t hear a thing!
The woman goes:
I wanted to say something when Angelo fell out
But fifty bucks is fifty bucks!
For the last two nights
There’ve been thunderstorms outside
I film them on my cell phone
I’ve got dozens and dozens of videos of lightning
Maybe I’ll make a montage with music
Post it on YouTube
At least some part of me will remain
A lightning trace
A beautiful spectacle
Beautiful bullshit flashes in the sky
It’s crazy how lonely you can feel when it’s hot out
My godson has only met me in person three times
He still leapt into my arms when he saw me
You lose something
Then you gain something else
And you cherish the new thing
You cherish it so much that you suffocate it
And what’s nice
Is life doesn’t stop
You think it’ll stop but it’s never done with you
It pulls you like a dog on a leash
It tosses you the ball
It loves you
Then it hates you to death for pissing
Behind your parents’ above-ground pool
That’s how it goes
I’m still looking for the tatami
Where’s the tatami?
I can’t find it tabarnak
I’ve got my kimono
I’m ready to fight
To walk barefoot
Eat without fear of an allergic reaction
Do the best judo holds
Cha Ryôt
Hammer kick
I’ve only had lunch on a patio once
Since the pandemic started
And a 12-year-old coughed on me
Is that a sign?
Is this how you jump from one day to the next?
You start to smile again?
How’s that even possible?
Where’s the tatami?
I want to fight the stork
Split its head with a chair
I worked like crazy
To get here
To get stoned here at my parents’ pool
What storm?
What phone?
Who gets away?
Who dies?
Who talks?
Who rips?
Whose lottery
Your breath near me
Close to my ear
Heavy punches
The sun warms us
Like spinach flowers
Today it is 45 degrees outside
We want to die
We want to be happy
We want a nice breeze
Something to blow the sea inland
Something to caress my forehead
While I vacuum
Something that says
I can’t wait to cuddle 
And yet
I’ve been waiting for you for a while
I’m wearing a kimono
I’ve got a yellow belt
But I want to go back to the white one
The one that reminds me of your old grey car
With the cushion you put on your seat so you could be taller
The one that reminds me of all our apartments
Your little socks in the dryer
Your crinkling eyes
Open mouth
Cracking up
Your big laugh
Those I don’t want to forget
Those I can’t forget
And all the lightning that’s already struck me
What storm?
What peace?
What future?
What joy?
What life?
Buddha offers me the choice
Of any of my seven lives
But I pick the same one
I always pick the same one
The one in the sun
No parasol
The one just above
The tatami.

Jean-Christophe Réhel was born on April 25, 1989, in Montréal. He is a poet and novelist.

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