Like all of us, he begins as a dot; the crowd would retain its definition without him. He knows gaslight only as a noun. When the eye zooms in to make out his identity, two men emerge to grasp his arms, to rush him to trial. He begins to replace what his eyes know, washes his face with maggots. The only faith he owns is the tickle of tarantula. He is sentenced for implanted crimes, tossed in a descending elevator, a blatant message. Unwilling to wait, to replay the force of claws on bare skin, he escapes to a rooftop. Suited men surround him, animals turned to men turned to animals, a line over a number after a decimal point. His faith looks past the suits to skyscrapers, to the don’t-look-down. He knows what a leap would be for a man. He knows. Midway through the rush toward sidewalks, toward the hair-covered tops of dots, he becomes the hawk he had always believed in. Floating against traffic, he will live to consume the larvae of nightmares.
*Title is a lyric from “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes (#1 on Billboard Hot 100, 1984).
Daniel M. Shapiro has attended a World Series Game 7, edited a lingerie catalog, and been called “gorgeous” by Burt Reynolds. His book of celebrity poems, How the Potato Chip Was Invented, was published by Sunnyoutside Press in 2013.