The High Wire’s Burden

Grew up in a sand castle

but never believed the ceiling would cave in.

Most days, I wish my spine was stronger,

my skin was thicker, the nights were longer.

I can see in the dark when I close my eyes

but I admit, I get nervous if I haven’t made plans for Friday.

The winds of fancy have never guided me

but neither has a compass.

Some nights, all I carry in my pockets are pesos

and dreams and stories and memories.

I got no time for regrets or stoplights

because life is a one-way street:

I try not to slow down.

I take refuge in the present,

but don’t resent the past.

The future, meanwhile, an afterthought.

I was raised to be a polite gentleman,

a safe driver, and a nice person.

But I’ve been given the middle finger

for holding a door, going the speed limit,

and saying “Good Morning.”

images (21)I cannot fathom the high wire’s burden,

its precarious balance of mortality.

Don’t let me fall, but if I do,

replace your teeth with my shattered bones.

My marrow stills aches to taste you

and my skeleton needs time to chew things over.

Atoning for sins means getting lucky:

a rabbit’s foot, a four-leaf clover

because we don’t all earn our forgiveness.

We cannot each keep his equilibrium.

Sometimes there is no net below

and in the end, no applause.

Just falling, your lips, a tombstone.


About Derek Berry

Derek Berry is a novelist and spoken word poet. Derek is the author of Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County (PRA Publishing, 2016). He co-founded and organizes The Unspoken Word, a literary non-profit based out of Charleston, SC, which provides an intendent home for the poetic arts through regular readings, workshops, and community fundraisers. He is on the Executive Board of the Charleston Poetry Festival, the inaugural production of which will be Fall 2017. His work has appeared in The Southern Tablet, Cattywampus, Charleston Currents, Illuminations, RiverSedge, and other journals.He has performed in venues across the United States and Germany. He has worked as a photographer’s assistant, busboy, and bookseller. He currently works at a curation facility for Cold War History.

Posted on August 10, 2013, in Poems, Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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