Gannon Fling Don’t Mean a Thing

Erie, PA. In the end, I could not
debate away my future, never would win
any argument with this fear
of exclamation

points. You make a living
so well punctuated. I peel off
vices the way we tried them on
for size—a joint in those woods behind
our junior high, a messed-up mixology
with your father’s liquor
in your basement. Slow to get them, suddenly
shoulders drop to lean into it. I rediscover
aftertaste in a name—sour, bitter, could have been
sweet. The jingle was yours. How could we

have known I would end up holding
all the question mark sickles
in my stiffened fists
so many road trips later?

I Hear the Stoics Speak (Revisited)

in echoes. And they walk down a corridor lined with portraits. Hung
inwardly on the walls. Stale messages

from adolescent bullies pull
at the corners of my mouth, clouds dump rain from the blue sky

of my eyes. I hear vice whispered in this escape to a forgotten stone
impasse with portico leanings. The men detach

themselves from those walls to march
through their namesake colonnade. Frames begin to rattle with the motion

of female portraits turning toward me. Face after face to remind me I can touch mine. It is still here
along with life-affirming sadness to strengthen my limbs and salted resolve.