Poem if the Day: steps


focus is more than just a serious facial expression
I was drunk and soaked in warm sweat
staring at my pile of belongings
stacked across the room
just slouched against the wall
with my wet hands
my wet legs
I recoil my toes and my socks squish the sweat
to the top of my toe nails
sitting up, my right cheek peels off the wet wall
the heat from the crowd
made the small back room
of this New Hampshire night club’s ceiling
my two suitcases dance before me
from my heavy drunk
I must move toward my pile of belongings, I thought
I must get my boots on and these sneakers off
I must put on a dry shirt,
then find my under jacket and alpha jacket,
and then lift the suitcases and
find the others
it was an equilibrium tug of war
but I had accomplished all of it
what is waiting outside is sharp and strong
winter in New England is but
Death’s hand raised
slightly above us
once I stepped outside, I would catch the flu
I knew this
I was too wet and winter is too cruel
weak from drinking and not eating
winter will win me
I am careless
I will be sick tomorrow
and I will not be able to afford any kind of medicine
so I will be sick for 8 days
ready to leave
with different shirts bunched and buttoned wrong
I stand holding two small suitcases
one of which was my father’s when he was my age
for a moment I wonder if he was ever drunk like me
like this
but then forgot the thought
as I swagger out the door to meet up with
my fiendish friends
out the doorway, winter’s bit, bites
and my body is struck
with the awakening panic of the
New England cold
I think of my friend in California and his question
“yes, the coasts are different”, I answer him quietly
with the muttering of a drunk
as my puffy white words rise
floating past Death
and up to the stars

Poem from The Gypsy Mile available on Interpunk.com

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