leaning into dystopia

By Rhys Feeney

lately i’ve been leaning into dystopia

crying in my baby pink jumper

      against the neon lights of the karaoke bar

supermarket shopping in a surgical mask

      & last night’s makeup

gently appreciating the vape pen light

       that illuminates the to-do list on my hand

closing my eyes &

      to think about something that makes me truly happy

            just like the work training told me to

taking my antipsychotics with tetrapak lemon tea

having a late-night d&m with a chatbot

smiling along to the smiling woman on the tv

      who says: it’s a great time to sell your house

teaching students how to decipher fake news

        teaching students how to make masks from socks

complying when the sign at the bus stop says:

        You Must Wear a Face

making a hmm sound

       when 5800 cows drown during live export

writing emails at 2am in the glow of my SAD lamp

disinfecting surfaces so we can go back to

     plastic plants & office bants

drinking after getting put on a 6-month waiting list

      for urgent support

waking up hungover

      buying hammer & sickle earrings from aliexpress

not avoiding the news but

       not not avoiding the news

stocking up on water purification tablets

        getting ready to bug out

breathing in carbon

carrying so many little devices

      monetising my data

stepping outside for a minute

     doing mindfulness while listening to the motorway



Rhys Feeney is a high school teacher, volunteer peer support worker and fledgeling doomsday prepper who lives in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. He writes with bad grammar about things that scare him. You can buy his debut chapbook, 'soyboy', as part of AUP New Poets 7