Authors / Watch & Listen

"I heart the rock-and-roll stardust": Alex Lemon reads from Feverland

Milkweed Staff — 08/31/2017

Alex Lemon’s new memoir-in-essays, Feverland, is a fragmented exploration of trauma, the fallibility of the body, and the joys of being alive. Listen to him introduce the book and read from the first essay, “EKG.”

Feverland will be available here and through your favorite bookstore on September 12, 2017. Stay tuned for a full announcement about his book tour!

Audio file

from Feverland: A Memoir in Shards

I heart the rock-and-roll stardust, steroids that let you live, all the spilled love and still being alive. I heart Twizzlers, tangerines, until the stomach can’t take any more. I heart knots, the perfect peel. I heart the heaving. I heart banging my head when I fall in the shower, banging my head on the curb. I heart making out in the ghosting cold. I heart the lips warm. I heart shame on me. Novocain, hydrocodone is what I heart. Ativan, Percocet, I heart you, too. Heart a handful of heart-shaped candies. I heart the moist perfume of Whoppers on the fingers I kiss. I heart the past—drink- ing through the blackouts and onward, crashing ass over piehole down the apartment stairs. Pills, I heart pills. I heart waking with my head’s dried blood glued to the pillow. I heart asparagus-and-beet salad dusted with manchego. Not remembering speaking to you, that is what I heart. What did I say? I heart. I heart it all wrong, I heart it until it shatters into a thousand sharp humming- birds. I heart my mother pushing my wheelchair through leaves along the barge-clanging Mississippi. I heart muggings, the quick cut, the knockdown. I heart shame on you. I heart it right. I heart keeping my fingers crossed. I heart going for long, cane-dragging walks, smoking cigarette after cigarette in Minnesota’s winter air—puffing myself light-headed, until I fall into the snow. Too deep, I heart, too long. I heart having nothing while pretending to have it all. I heart every last joint that I’ve smoked, every pop, every line. I heart the pretty. I heart instead, maybe, might. I can’t see, I heart you. I heart walking blindly into traffic. I heart still believing in something better. Still believing, I heart. I believe, I heart. I heart dead animals beneath my bed, in the walls. I heart visitors. I heart I am not home. I heart songs that go on too long. I heart a tight chest. I can’t breathe, I heart. Numb face, too, I heart. I heart amphetamines, amphetamines, amphetamines. The shock of the coldest water, I heart. The ugly, the ugliest, I heart you, too. The belly-up flies on the windowsill, I heart, the orange peels drying in the sun. I heart making love premorning. I heart that assemblage, the way it all falls down. I heart never getting tired. I heart not being able to get out of bed. Codeine my heart, I heart. I heart the bed spins that come each night, the vertigo that makes me claw the air. I heart the butcher beneath my ribs. I heart it all wrong. I heart no speed limit and flicking my headlights off. I heart swerving beneath the moonlight. I heart the kitchen with the oven baking bread. I heart the midnight inside me, nail- holed with starlight. I heart the slowdown, the traffic jam. I heart gutting walleye along the shore, the turtles sunning on rocks. The guts, I heart. I heart your body. Your body, I heart. I heart the darkness my boy tells me he knows. His thundering run through our home, I heart—the way he starfishes in his sleep. I heart the bruise of watching him grow up too fast. The good burn and blister of my daughter’s fat-cheeked grin, I heart. I heart knowing I can do nothing about the pain the world will deliver upon them. I heart trying to soak up as much hurt as I can. I heart there is no time to give up, there is so little time. The art of the impossible, I heart. The heart, I heart, I heart. Each ache inside me, I heart. Open windows in winter and blue skies, I heart. That hard work of the heart, I heart. The heart overripe, I heart, the heart always raw. The heart churning, I heart, the heart aflame. The good heart gone bad, I heart, the good heart always coming back. The chandelier heart, I heart, its wicked sparkle, its champion gleam. I heart this heart, this last, this only, this heart glowing swollen because always, we are all about to die.