Ride

Dim white noise in low light, bar chatter

failing to replace the foreground stain head noise

of a re-remembered day

falling onto me like a tilted dresser

drawers sliding and knocking together

and this seat on the far wall behind the pool table

in the sound and shadow of resin smacking like rock

is the bottom of the stairs.

I was a passenger

kicking around trash to make room

and thanking you for taking me

home, but you took me to yours instead and

said you didn’t mind if I crashed.

When I first remembered I realized that I knew more

every minute what was happening until

it was, and I was remembering like it was already over.

You were sorry then.

But I was, in the immediacy, as far from you as I’d ever be.

Rally

I pressed the shutter release of a contoured camera

trying to hold perfectly still, and waiting

for the sound, then looking

to make sure it was a good picture.

The keynote speaker was patient and grimaced politely

at the stranger admiring his words back to him

like the practiced muscle memory of putting on his shoes

refusing to take credit for the lies he said

were lies and the truth he said

was proven to be true by not being the lies.

After all, what matters is do you believe

and I have a goddamn microphone

And believing completely,

we were strangers to everything.

Teacher

Cherry soda in a plastic cup

There was nothing unkind in his smile.

She touched her straw and felt

cared about in a way that matters.

He spoke and it made her excited about being young

like the carbon sensation on her lips was a seam tearing from the inside.

She would come to talk for an hour but

no one stayed Wednesdays past five

and he was glad to listen longer

to let her stay after the other offices were empty.

There was no tricking or turning

no monster in the shape of his mouth.

It was a true face

like his father’s when he touched

the side of his leg without words

because words could only tell him he was wrong.

And only the solitude of a shared unspeaking

could cover the terrible noise of a still, small voice.

Grocery Store

You are a calculated risk, she said

with the arc of the swing of her arm.

You’re a condition

of a contract quickly signed and never read

and put under painted glass

like a face reflected but obscured by the darks of searching eyes.

The shopping cart made a noise when it jolted, stopped by one hand

the other raised in rage, and it landed

on his cheek and his jaw.

He didn’t make a sound because

there wasn’t any, and it was a condition

of giving all of everything all the time

in exchange for being

a fitting and right reward.

And how do you ask someone not to give you

everything all the time because

you can’t pay them back

in a parking lot.