the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Allen C. Fischer


I have a conviction that drives like a truck:
          conviction as in convict;
          truck from the snarl of truculence.
I have 214 horses under my hood and
enough heat to fuel a small war:
          horses as might convey horseshit;
          hood not unlike a neighborhood dealer.
There's enough predation in my game, enough
teeth in gear and gears in my motor to drive anyone mad.

I have a truck in mind that covers the ground
like NASCAR and revs my worst fears.
What I do is my business, not yours.
When you enter my garage, leave your mother
at the door. Here, we're one in all and all for one.
Because I have a conviction about what is true;
it handles like a truck and holds that I'm right:
          right as in dead right;
          truck as in don't mess with me.



Two four letter words attach in verbal
marriage. But help is no match for less,
losing what hope it conveys, all
it can do. Less has the final say.

As you lessen, I am unable to help —
helpless in the company of your
disease and in its fatal grip,
intangibly afflicted, powerless —
our lives digits in a lottery
whose numbers do or don't come up.

As you fight the shadow invading
your body, I race around like a
desperate stray, no shelter nearby.
A winter is closing in and all that is
cold, hard and silent is coming into bloom
like a barite rose, a sickly birthstone.

Note: a barite rose is a rose shaped crystalline aggregate composed of barium sulfate crystals and sand whose iron content gives them a reddish hue.



The enemy was closing in.
I could hear its gunfire
cut the distance in half
and then to a quarter mile.

Down the ridge behind
my neighbor's land, across his lawn
and finally under my skin,
enemy gunfire throbbed,

ricocheted through my sleep
and woke me, shots riveting
dream to day so perfectly,
I quivered in the lines of fire.

It was my neighbor up the hill
getting off his nerves, squeezing
30 caliber clips into the belly
of a standing target while I napped.

As I lay there listening
to the blunt of bullets followed by
the blow of their after-burn,
I wondered.

My neighbor, crouching in my mind
like Custer, steadies, takes aim
and fires round after round at
the demons hidden within us.



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