High Above the Treacherous and Shifting Ground
Tom Maguire never felt at home
on the spot where he stood
until his final attempt at flight
huddled in a pool of blood without deliverance.
Now his wasted cut wrist rested on his lap
and Jennie O’Connell kissed the wound
and Tom wept.
Suddenly the July 4th explosives in Coney Island
turned the heavens into fantastic tumbling rainbows.
“That’s some mighty spectacular fireworks, ” said O’Connell
“puts me in mind of the time when I drank lighter fluid.”
“How’d it taste? ” I asked.
“Don’t recommend it, not really
years ago, when I was wild
I also drank nail polish remover,
and nail polish for that matter
started swooping through the stars,
one by one,
till I got to three hundred thousand
took me about four minutes
then I finished off the can of fluid
and all of a sudden I got it into my head
to have a smoke.
You can imagine the kick I got.
When I woke up my ass was smoking.
I mean smoking.
Of course the hair on my head was toast
and on the sand in front of me
I seen the words: ‘Don’t try that shit no more.’
And under that the word: ‘God.’
Now I don’t drink lighter fluid no more,
nor count the stars
because that’s God’s business.
How many? How far? Where’d they come from?
All we gotta do is stare at ‘em
and feel the wonder.
If we can do that we’ll be OK.”
Maguire, still with tears
held out his ragged wrist
whispering, “When will the torture end? ”
The fabulous blasts higher than heaven now
I couldn’t hear O’Connell
only see yet another kiss
into the scar.
Comments about this poem (High Above the Treacherous and Shifting Ground by Charles Chaim Wax )
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