He blew a ring of smoke
and asked, You ever curse? And just because
I lacked the soul or spine or clarity
of mind that night to say
the many ways I hate the loose-lipped bitterness,
the slimy charm and happy hatred of it all,
and not the words
themselves, I told him, No.
He puffed a bit and turned to say to me,
You’re good. And then, because
I couldn’t say the fact I am
a fly, a dirty incarnation of a fleeting breath,
caught in a million sticky threads of what good is,
what good might be,
of some inevitable mouth, some tooth,
some poison crowned by a dozen shining eyes,
I replied, Thanks.
But you’re quiet, he added, shaking his ashes
into wind. To which I said nothing.