Tuesday, December 27, 2005

the chapbook opener

(This poem is the opening poem to my chapbook Clubbed Kid [2002]. The poem was written in 1998 I believe. If anyone is ever interested in getting a copy of my chapbook, which I have at least 40 copies stored under my bed, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.)

The High Bar and the Ladder

It's March and Christmas lights still hang beneath the rooftop gutters.
This impresses me, like Tommy's mother finding a copy of Playgirl in his room
then asking him if he's seeing any nice girls he could invite home for dinner.
I'm buckling over because I know I can't take the lights down alone—
I fear my knees touching the third rung from the top of the ladder
where I breathe heavier because I have to look down to make certain
my foot doesn't slip on the next step up. Good footing is everything
especially for floor exercises. It's the gymnast in me—and I want another gold
for my round-off back handspring. Another chance to be a thirteen-year-old
sitting silent on a locker room bench staring at Jean's brown bikini underwear.
He was my gymnastics coach, and I enjoyed watching him undress—
his hairy abs, his perfect ass—his hands on my hips when spotting me
on the high bar. The comfort of straight elbows and gripped, chalked hands
clutching metal bars eight feet in the air with a man propping me there
making sure I didn't fall. How pervert Romance novel in a puberty-pumped-up
world. How soon I need to rest my head on the top rung, hands holding tight
to the second one down. It's the thought of hitting the ground hard like a botched
dismount and lying on your broken back watching the Christmas lights still hanging
from rooftop gutters thinking how awful it is that you never took them down.