volcanic lips smirked
across the glowing crust
of her earth, strands of magma rushed from her roaring core
up past her mantle
and down the small of her back, melting
icy irises out of my skull
and forming a pond at my feet; blinded,
her inferno led me by the wrist into the water
to take a swim.
There I was on the crucifix
More bored than anything. Sweat
had engulfed me
By the time I flexed my arms and snapped the wood
To pray for a thunderstorm
Or just some kind of respite from the heat.
Before I was a martyr
I was a carpenter
Building my ideals with 2×4’s
And fashioning the interior with marble.
I composed a library with starving
shelves and gorged them on the delicacies
of days gone by
Before the wood splintered
And the display burst
Like a blister on tattered skin.
So I rebuilt it
– again, and again –
and once more for good measure.
I pulled a burning almanac from the stacks
and set it on the nearest table
As the tales of ancient kings
Were etched in smoke
against the ceiling.
At first I thought to fan the flames
And rescue every blackened
– Instead, I turned to the shelves
And watched them collapse
Knowing I was doomed
to repeat the stories inside.
I cringe to imagine the consequences
of my sobriety.
Not that I couldn’t handle it. I could –
– But where’s the fun in that?
Gone would be the scavenger hunts
for wayward women
in the wee hours of the morning
And the times I’d vomit on the subway platform as a homeless man raises
a Dixie cup to me as if to say “cheers!”
Or the nights I sat alone in a diner booth howling at the moon
while waitresses stared with wide eyes asking their manager if they should call security.
I could stop drinking,
I am a wolf
looking into the window of debauchery with hungry green eyes,
Snarling through bared fangs and stalking the perimeter for an opening.
Without my vices
I’d yearn for the sunrises I’d never remember,
or the nights where I’d smash bottles
into the street until the cops show up
and I go down in a hail of gunfire
like Dally from The Outsiders
for pretending to pull a handgun from my jacket.
I’m 20 years old
and somehow I’ve lived too long
to be content as is.
Cynicism has grabbed me by the nape of my neck
and kissed me
full on the mouth in a crowded bar swarming with friends and relatives.
They knew me when I tried out for quarterback
on my fifth grade football team
And now I throw empty bottles of Jameson
off the roof of my apartment in Philadelphia
like I’m Donovan McNabb.
Just like McNabb, I smile through the bile, doubled over
while glancing at the scoreboard
I wrote my name next to yours
in the sand and admired
Until the waves whisked them away
Like two lovers lost at sea,
Where I mean as much to you
as you mean to me