an unsmoked cigarette
burns for thirteen minutes
without a drag,
and since you’re all grown up now
there must be a wedding day.
the town will throw you a parade,
rope off the streets where tanks
and armies marched
and teenagers did the twist.
they’ll re-introduce you to the
man who baptized you, he says
the “our father” often
but he doesn’t look familiar
the blimp banner clocks the national debt
but nothing about all the i.o.u.’s
for last months rent,
or how fast cigarettes burn
as you sit around counting hours.
an arc of time is never real until
your lover pulls the joker,
you’re all in, full ante
and one hand later
the game is over.
you knew it then.
they lied but that’s ok.
it hurts real bad
when the rules change
and the headlines don’t print any warning.
it’s never christmas anymore
just exit polls and prom kings
pull out the old box of maps
from under your bed.
you get your revolver loaded and pick a direction,
a spot on the map you’ve never been.
hitchhike to the dakotas
where the weather’s colder.
where strangers with no faces
stand over your shoulders
counting pages in your notebook.
the wolves run free
no swings in the park
maybe the buffalo jumped the cliff for fun
left their bleached white skulls in the pits
they’re hidden until the thaw
until you find them grinning like a spring bloom.
eventually we all shiver in the sun
Scott Laudati lives in Los Angeles. He is the author of Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair (Kuboa Press). Visit him on instagram @scottlaudati