This morning, I arrived at the intersection of mortality and denial. The past, present, and future sat at a cafe table, sipped lattes, and watched as my steps became hesitant.
The past delicately placed a five on the table. “My money’s on knowledge. She’s seen this one before and chose–well, if not wisely, then correctly.”
Present added a fiver. “I don’t know. Lately, she’s been just waiting and not doing. I’m going with what I see now.”
Future smirked and placed a ten under the cold candle. “You all know I have to cover both positions.”
I looked both ways and sighed. There must be a third choice I cannot yet see. Frost may have gotten it wrong. I took out my notebook and started writing down the possibilities.
Wings sprouted from my shoulders and lifted me up, over the intersection, over the obstacles, away from the cafe. From above, I could see both roads. I clutched my notebook to my chest and smiled. So, the writer’s way, then.
A passing waiter collected the money off the table and smiled at the trio staring openmouthed as I disappeared.
She stubbed out her cigarette a few steps outside the doctor’s office
a defiant finger at good healthy living
her legs were cratered with sores, scratches, wrinkles
Her thin body spoke eloquently of liquor and smokes and hot dogs and hostess cupcakes and uncontrolled diabetes and a failure of an old man and boys in jail and girls with a mess of kids and who knows the daddies
The daughter was her twenty years earlier with a kid on her hip while she stepped on her smoke
I smelled old smoke, tiredness, failure to find the good life anywhere beside the sweaty validation of sex
I sling words with feeling without skimming on the surface like a cockroach across a puddle.
I get drunk and cry with my pen instead of writing about my tears. Anyone can do that.
I drag myself through a slimy alley of darkness and live to keep it a secret.
I don’t have time to spout pretty words and platitudes and cocktail party phrases.
My life, my existence is this: every word counts.
Every stinking drop of sweat on this table is a poem. Every lamentation for lost vices pushes a limit. Every painful sunrise is a testament to being laid bare every night.
Every click of the compressor motor on the refrigerator counts down to the end, closer than the beginning, and I am alive to feel every second of it, taste every bitter dreg of it, lose myself in all the places where I don’t matter.