Faces as fresh as memories of
a mistake made in front of a crowd.
Grip as firm as the pommel
on a saddle or a sword.
A smile fast as a bleeding heart
tumbles to the floor.
Friendly — what’s friendly?
Do we embrace now,
punch each other’s shoulders?
What do we do now, old buddy?
We’ve not seen each other
since high school, or a year or two later
at Billy’s Pub, or the Station Tavern;
who knows, some other local bar. Are we still
drunk on that old beer? Are we still
afraid to admit our entire relationship
was alphabetical, based on twelve years’
of classroom seating charts? That we
don’t know each other, really?
That we never did?
Let it be shoulders then. Then let us turn,
in pain, separately back to the bar.
Before I walk out the door
I steel up, remembering
that there are people out there
who would prefer I was less inconvenient
and who might even think
I should not have been born
and therefore to see me die
would be either terrific
or at least a relief in terms of
how much real estate their fear
takes up within them — one less
hell to answer, amirite, one less
mongrel to flay?
Some of those same people
who would disavow this if you asked
say nice things to my face,
might even categorize me
as one of the good ones to my face,
at least until I pop off
over something they say or believe
and they get me better than they did
and then comes my time to shine
to their faces and I admit
all their wanting me to die
or never to have existed is not
just reflected in how I’ve steeled up;
some of that shines forth
from within me.