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.

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