Michael McNeilley

and at some point it becomes clear
that in any relationship
I would want now
all the understanding
the communication
the store of history
the weight of experience
would be so involved
so purely large
so complicated
it would take so long
getting it all straight
so very long while as always
my capacity to say
exactly the wrong thing
ticked on like a bomb
each passing moment
bringing closer the
inevitable crash
the fated wrong turn
the unconscious admission
the ill-considered joke
the phrase mistaken
the implication unmeant
the familiar wrong turn
into another careening car
of a psyche filled as mine
with the drunks and the needy
and the lost and the abused
and one poor fearful person
trying as well to sift through
the note cards of experience
to build the stack high enough
when each move must sway the balance
must lengthen the fall
to try again though long in memory
and grim against hope and
knowing as I know all this
and remembering this as I must
and imagining it projected like a slide show
on the thin wall of your chest
I know I should be content
simply to sit here alone
push these buttons
watch it happen instead on the screen
where it will all the same
really happen
just as inevitably tick down
but have it take place only
in the imagination
where it would be placed in any case
afterward in retrospect
by the punch list of mistakes
that must be endlessly replayed
set myself and little you aside
save us both the watching for
the moment of terrible recognition
the flash flood of neural connection
the anvil drop the rock roll down
the color drain the eyes narrow
fire burn down the canyon
toward the wide-eyed mice
the lips thin the
knuckles whiten the echo
of the door
Copyright CrossConnect, Inc. 1996