by AJ White
Something will happen today, in white porch columned
America, downtown, across the smooth & constant
river that runs, it seems, like I used to, for the sake of running,
for the sake of being fast, feeling the world
as it is left behind, the absolute power of a stride,
what my foot could do to a rubberized track,
put it in its place, leave it where I found it but lessened,
& I am gone.
Something will happen later today,
& do you have this anxiety that I do, this semifrantic
state of avoiding, at some great, unknowable cost,
ever being frantic, being out of control—have you ever lived
one heartbeat to the next? I promise I’m not
trying to be dramatic. I assume you have, & do, & are.
Something will happen at 1:30 today: yesterday I said
I am a free man, I should walk along the river, so I did.
There were omens: a raven’s feather with its blue sheen,
a Styrofoam bowl of macaroni & cheese
left on a stone wall, a newborn’s white shoe. In the mall,
where I went to be somewhere, legions of gold rings
bearing semiprecious stones in their neat rows & ranks,
each so like a soul.
It helps to know the something
that will happen will not be the worst thing that has
ever happened to a human being. Which is so selfish
it is perhaps more intolerable than what will happen.
I keep waiting for the part of the story where I face
great hardship & emerge more benevolent & humble.
I keep waiting for the part of the contest when I win.
This poem first appeared in Taco Bell Quarterly, Volume 6.