“It looks like an undead America in my hands.”

It looks like an undead America in my hands. A blood-red, blue-flecked, green-white mess of star-spangled snot. I blow my nose again, grab a clean shirt from the pile beside my bed, and wipe. Again.

All of my clothes are as threadbare as a Betsy Ross original. I wash and dry them as many as four or five times a day. The laundry basket is never empty, the lint trap is always clean, and the mattress stains peek through the ragged sheets like barely legal voyeurs.

My sinuses dry heave, my throat menstruates, and my head has restless leg syndrome. I cough and once again I’m holding the Fourth of July in my hands. Non sequiturs ooze out of my pores like drunk sweat.

If I was an MFA student ripping off Jackson Pollock, I’d place a clean canvas next to my bed, next to my couch, next to my desk, next to my toilet, and I would create mini mucus masterpieces. I would make a fortune on phlegm. And if you wanted a Wyatt Duvall original, all you would have to do is stand in front of me until the next coughing fit arrives. And when it did and after I have, you would look back at me, your faces beaming beneath the shine of Old Glory spittle. That bit of snot stands for our men and women in uniform, I would say. That one for United 93. That one for the World Trade Center 3,000. And you would pay me.

My eyes burn and swell. Every glance scalds, and every blink is an eruption. I look at the world through bloodshot glasses, and everything I see comes in shades of red No. 2 and blue No. 5.

With each cough, I would get another 15-minutes of fame, another interview, another fan site, another Facebook friend, another line on my tombstone. I wouldn’t need to sign autographs. I would only need to hand out Kleenex. I would be rich beyond belief. Every morning, I would wipe my ass with Andy Warhol Campbell soup can prints and jerk off into the face of Picasso.

I reach for the glass pipe on the nightstand, lift up my shirt, and pull the high from my belly button. Then I pack the bowl and smoke.

There is no place I’d rather be. The world is my laundromat, and my soul is Downy soft.


—Excerpt from Confessions of a Lint Head, by Wyatt Duvall