I loved the toxic run-off, tentacles
of algae, and corrugated zinc
that tripped me as I hunched
in the culvert, following
Will Macon’s echoing hard steps,
listening to loaded pick-ups
hammer overhead. All afternoon
we’d spit tobacco juice, damn God,
light firecrackers then watch
the wick thrash in our hands.
Darkness was our gift: him shrieking
curses through a manhole cover
as phosphenes gathered into faces,
words I could almost read. Years later,
Will blew open a friend’s cheek
with a paintball gun, T-boned
a mini-van while pulling
vodka from a plastic jug.
I stayed inside, but even now,
I close my eyes and listen to my fingers’
distant traffic on the laptop keys.
In the culvert, Will would whisper
Move your ass, and stomp off
to a different haunt. I would
hesitate, as I do now, waiting
for the tapping keys to sound
like words, for oblivion,
almost meaningful, to let me in.
Liquor, Michael McConnell
water color on paper