September 2011

THE TIGHT ROPE WALKER GETS HIGH

Used to be all smoky giggles & gossip & who’s got
the munchies, but danger’s a gateway drug

for love, for picking out the wrong guys
across a loud & crowded bar & it takes years

before you realize such places have only the wrong guys.
There’s that moment when you pull back the plunger

& the clear liquid contains an eddy of your blood,
twisting crimson beautiful like the center of a marble,

cat’s eye, aggie, shooter, ribbon of possibility
right from the heart of things. You’re nodding off

against the passenger window of a pickup truck,
someone else driving, of course, & the caravan

stretches a mile ahead & behind. Your forehead
bounces against the glass, waking you at every jostle,

you never did take that backpack trip in Europe
or watch whales off the coast of Maine –

this is a list with no end in sight or spite, why
go on, there’s a reason you carry a loaded gun:

some monsters flat need killing. Others must be fed
& slowly’s the only good way to do yourself in.

Having fun may be the closest we get to flying
but it’s foolish to pretend nothing

isn’t out there, just past the gyre of the headlights,
waiting for you to close eyes or lose balance,

waiting for that one misstep that’s one too many.