Dana R. Wagner

Watching Eraserhead for the First Time in 2016

We lie together
In our borrowed bed in the rotting farmhouse,
Like we might have so many years earlier, in so many other beds,
Like I wish we had
Watching an old film we could’ve watched then,
Made between our births,
On the small glowing screen of the small computer
That rests uncomfortably on my outstretched legs
That I will not move or shift
Because I will not move or shift you
Curled against me … head against my chest …
You whisper that I have a strong heartbeat as you nestle further into me
You have no idea
And your torso turned against mine and your legs alongside me
I would not disturb any part of you
Listening for your slight intakes of breath
And barely audible snorts of incredulity and amusement
As the nonsensical plays out on our little screen
As you drift away from the dreamlike scenes and into me
You will be asleep before the full perversity is exposed
Leaving me alone holding your slumbering form and wondering
What things you would have said,
What insights you would have shared,
Had we watched together
Had we watched together then
Still students immersed in deciphering
Art and meaning
Our own lives
Would we have seen more or had more language for our thoughts
Now cynical from time and the world and post-everythingism
And experience
And loss
Now the warmth of your sleeping breath against me
Your sleeping body stirring thoughts of what we would have felt and shared
Watching this together
With our younger eyes
Like I wish we had.


Dana R. Wagner grew up in Urbana, Illinois, and moved to the west coast to attend the University of California at Berkeley, from which he graduated with degrees in Comparative Literature and Economics.  He was an artist-in-residence at the Art Farm in Nebraska in the summer of 2016, and he now lives in San Francisco, where he is working on his writing while immersing himself in the local arts scene.

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