How many corners are there in a brain? How much can hide there? Earlier today, someone mentioned those Absolut ads from every magazine in the ’90s—how many of those ads lurk, forgotten? The corners of my brain must hold 500 Absolut ads like some bottle-shaped papier-mâché speakeasy door hiding what I really want to remember with marketing bullshit. Right now, somewhere in my brain is the name of the non-André 3000 member of Outkast. This, I want to remember, but my synapses aren’t playing. His name is hiding behind an Absolut Atlanta ad where a crowd of Braves fans sit in the shape of a bottle, doing the Tomahawk chop and hollering about how John Rocker played the game “the right way.” My synapses are kids looking at their desks instead of the teacher’s eyes. My synapses pretend they don’t hear me when I shout, “Are you even listening?” My synapses refuse to check the corners. My synapses are aiding and abetting my descent. I listened to the entirety of Aquemini last night while driving to and from a basketball game that we lost by four, and still, I got nothing. Surely he says his name somewhere in Aquemini, but his name has already walked slowly down the steps of my brain and hidden itself in a dark basement corner, behind that Absolut door and next to a box of comics full of characters I’ll never remember either & a stack of VHS tapes from Michigan’s championship run in ’89, of which I’ll remember next to nothing either. The rest of the basement is drowned out by 30,000 Braves fans robbing Mark Morrison & shouting
You lied to me, all these pains you said I’d never feel.
You lied to me, but I do, but I do, do, do
Return of The Man
as they shift, like a tight marching band at halftime, from that Absolut bottle to that White Power hand sign they keep catching white boys doing in the White House because what, you thought they wouldn’t appropriate gang signs too? So I refuse to Google the trivia because maybe just maybe my synapses aren’t dumb, maybe they’re hiding beauty in the basement, away from the Nazis, maybe in all the dark corners, my synapses bear-hug Ororo Munroe & Loy Vaught & Big Boi, waiting, breathing, flexing, tense.
Mitchell Nobis is a writer and teacher in Metro Detroit where he’s playing basketball until his body falls apart. His poetry has appeared in Hobart, Cobalt Review, 8 Poems, Ponder Review, STAND Magazine, English Journal, and others, and his manuscript Field Trees was a semi-finalist for the 2017 Philip Levine Prize. He co-authored Real Writing: Modernizing the Old School Essay (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Find him at @MitchNobis or mitchnobis.com.