Issue #20

The Eigenstate That Keeps the Cat Alive

Suzannah Weiss

“In life, you’re like Schrodinger’s cat

Every decision makes you more dead or more alive”

I said that one time I dropped acid 

By my brother’s garden in Berkeley 

That was back when I compulsively ate

Only fruit, oats, and nuts until the evening

The thing is, death can look like life 

When you strive to be the liveliest alive

Like when I stole an avocado and grapes 

From an abandoned food cart

While leaving a friend’s party

The survival instinct twists into poison so quick

My friend Robert was in the yard with me

We couldn’t stop laughing over the hose

From which we tried to hydrate ourselves 

Forgetting about the sink inside 

It’s so easy to forget

That life is still an option

It’s so hard to find the door 

When the thirst overtakes you 

We came up with a usability test 

If you can use it on acid, it’s a user-friendly app 

Grubhub failed, and the delivery guy went to Robert’s house

I hid when he finally reached us 

I was scared of my brother finding out, too

He’d flown first-class to Switzerland 

To meet with some bank

Leaving me there to keep his cat alive 

I ran inside when the neighbors asked if I was all right

Because I almost threw up at the sound of my name

Hypnaldoozy shmergaldizey 

It grotesquely morphed

The laughter of the devil 

Turned my tongue into a pitchfork 

While the angels up in heaven 

Blew my teeth up into clouds 

I tore paper towels that turned rainbow as I spoke

Of peering out at life through death-colored window shades 

I was a quantum leap from the garden 

Where the overwatered tomatoes regained their stability 

“I feel like a sailor, I wanna voyage around the world,” I said

As shadows had sex on the wall behind me

“You should do it!” said Robert. “Just do it!” 

“I guess I will!” I said. “I think I’ll do it!”

On a white poster board, with markers, we scribbled

Yellow, red, blue, and green squiggles

The phrase “BAD INTENTIONS” and

“It doesn’t have to always hurt (attitude toward dating and marriage)”

I texted my friend Phil my revelation about Schrodinger

“That doesn’t sound profound, but it is,” I assured him,

“Which describes the majority of this trip”

Nevertheless, it inspired a bunch of poems and a tattoo  

“Did the cat get her paws on the acid?” I asked

When she wouldn’t stop meowing 

We puzzled until we realized 

She just wanted some food 

Life can look like death 

But you know the difference 

You know if you’re acting

From the life force or the death drive 

You know if you’re cowering to the ground

Or blooming toward the sky 

You know if you’re in the eigenstate 

That keeps the cat alive. 

Suzannah Weiss is a freelance journalist focused on gender and sexuality. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and elsewhere. Her creative writing has appeared in The East Bay Review and Sparkle + Blink. She resides in Santa Monica, CA and spends her spare time giving psychic readings, leading cacao ceremonies, coaching people on their sex lives, and writing poems inspired by philosophers and their cats. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

how to become a party girl (reprise)

Valerie W

memory of buying drugs at your house/ and going to the arcade right after/ sometimes it’s too painful to live inside/ the pedicured garden/ where the roses lost their job/ i stare at edges of eyelids/ attached to a stranger down the street/ broken hand in boxing glove/ stolen wine in fast food cup/ i’m bringing the biggest valentine/ as a source of shelter/ we can grow together, or better yet/ i’ll let you grow inside of me/ crystals, a vanishing thing/ to swim in light/ like many things/ you turn joyless

Valerie W is a Filipinx American multimedia artist and poet in Portland, OR. She is currently working on her first chapbook. Find her on Instagram.