But tented morn over porthole eyes
bushy-tailed and baby-faced, swollen
and scabbed, all skin a leather glove.
Bare-palmed climbing forestay to impress
new arrivals before drumbeat rehearsal,
batten your heart, winch your ear, clew
hip to rhythm and if you read the telltale
right one day you may polish tabernacle.
Sleeping in a doorless phonebooth, obviously
we became close, maybe too, was good for
the spine, never straighter, nor stronger.
Each port held the threat of opportunity.
I got shanghaied in Bar Harbour. You got
press ganged by a sloop-crew christened Thelma.
You’ve been preparing to leave for thirty-one years. A natural-born ship-jumper. Blame your ancestors and the flat whines they left dangling in Atlantic gales. Blame your mother’s boozing. Blame the way the world was translated, knowing the whole time curiosity—the cause. You settle accounts. Give away all books, again. Find a ticket or job to as far as you can imagine. Fill breadcrumb sack, jug heavy with water, lick finger to wind, and measure the sun’s arc.
At some interstate on-ramp, under some bridge, a bench perimetering some square, below a leafy branch back-resting in some groomed city park, following a taller-than-you cornrow, removing a slimy wharf line, pissing drunk in an alley, smoke-ringing through a doorway, diagonally crossing an empty intersection, heading to the far corner of a truck stop parking lot counting on a lift—a tiny slice of tinfoil descends, as if some invisible-handed stage manger has cued a prop, you meet the mirrored sunlit reflection and the revelation, so full of eternal childlike wonder—you are a star trapped in your own movie stuck on repeat riddles your rapture and horror, and you can do nothing more than take another step.
David Morgan O’Connor is from a small village on Lake Huron called Grand Bend. After many nomadic years, he is based in Albuquerque, where a short story collection progresses. He contributors monthly to The Review Review and NewPages. His writing has appeared in Barcelona Metropolitan, Collective Exiles, Across the Margin, Headland, Cecile’s Writers Magazine, Bohemia, Beechwood, Fiction Magazine, After the Pause, The Great American Lit Mag (Pushcart nomination), The New Quarterly and The Guardian. Tweeting @dmoconnorwrites. His website: http://davidmorganoconnor.com.