What Was That?

comments 21

Every once in a while
reality gets in a mood.
Wants to bust up the ice.
Show us our options.
Get the lead out.
Crumple up history into a ball.

Rubs its hands together.
Blows on the dice.
Not for luck.
Oh no.
The devoted–
the ones
alone in the gym
before daylight
about to shoot their five hundred free throws–
they do the same.
Twirl the world in their hands.
Breathe deep.
Visualize it.
Take the measure of it.


Feels good to move like that.
Feels pure.
Bounce, bounce.  Twirl.
See it again.


You’re leaving the cafe,
and this guy that seems to like
wearing his headphones
like a bowtie
and accosting perfect strangers
asks you what ya’ got?

In your pockets, man!
Whatcha’ got!?

Normally you wouldn’t, but…
this guy feels like
an off-duty  amnesiac archangel
that crashed into your best friend’s older brother
and inherited all his crazy jokes,
like he’s never done this before
and he knows exactly what he’s doing.
He’s something innocent and in between.
With a backpack.
Dark sunglasses.
Where’s he sleep at night???
Where’s he gonna’ be in ten minutes!?

Let’s see…
You start digging.

Car keys.

He’s staring off into space.
Mumbling something.
Smoothin’ his fingers together
like he’s about to pull
a rattlesnake out of
a potato sack.

Cell phone.
Receipt for fish tacos.

No, no man!
Put that shit away, bro!
That one.
He’s pointing like a stage actor
to your winter coat’s
hidden pocket,
the one that was specifically designed
with the urban spelunking crowd
in mind.

The one you never use.

Dog whistle.

Where’d that come from…?
The kids…  Last year at the, uh–
Oh yeah…

You’re grinning.
Was that the punchline?
He’s pretty good, this guy.
That was pleasant.

You ain’t done yet, man!

Wait.  What!?

You reach in to your pocket,
fish around for a bit,
pull out a mint condition
Cracker Jack toy
like you haven’t seen
in probably four decades.


A tiny book of tattoos.
You’re fumbling with the pages.
Time is dilating.
Dreadlock’s doing that laugh
that sounds like he’s imitating
a washing machine with a sinus cold.
He’s got one hand over his mouth.
He’s about to fall over.
But you’re oblivious.
It’s been so long
since you tasted this feeling.
Your eyes are leaking.
You can smell pine trees.
You remember how
you used to kick ant beds
just to see what would happen.
You remember there’s still
such a thing as
pristine, raw wonder.
Blissful curiosity.
You had it once–
there was nothing in the world
but meaningful things, then.
A glass bottle in the dirt
merited a full inquiry.

Why did someone put that there, Dad?

Your world has broken open.
You’re at the center of the Tootsie Pop.

You look up.
He’s gone.
You’re walking.
Just walking.

Some moments
just don’t fit
the usual taxonomies
of experience.

But they sure do happen.


    • Yes, I think Marga actually gave me that line in a response to my comment on one of her posts. It just popped in and seemed like a good time to give it a whirl!


      Liked by 1 person

  1. was having so
    much fun participating
    in mind’s play,
    the rewind, the rerun
    until my own past karma
    put me in the dentist’s chair
    for eating all that candy!
    real sweet, Michael 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ouch! Yes, you follow the tape for a while and inevitably you come across the other side of the coin. Physical fitness tests during elementary school. Crashing my bike into a car and having my foot run-over. Getting chased by a Doberman. It all comes rushing back. It’s all good stuff, though, right? The raw material of experience… 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Three licks! That’s how long it takes to get to the center of the univerrse! I feel like I’m living this poetry right now, like a child rediscovering the world she loves. I also have always wanted dreadies, coincidentally. And cracker jack boxes, weren’t those amazing. Maybe I still have a box buried somewhere under piles of Bazooka bubble gum….

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have no idea where the memory of Cracker Jack toys came from. I had to google the toys to see what they were, and once I did I had that shivering memory thing of wow! oh yeah!! It’s like you release a cellular memory. There’s something to that notion of rediscovery, of recovering the world we once knew… Have you found a new kick-boxing dojo yet??? I sense something fierce afoot on your end…



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