December 1998 / Volume One / Issue Three
David Bates
When the Blood Hits the Veins

Once you've [cheated death]
so many times
you begin to feel
like you owe him or that maybe
you can beat him

So you play it the mean way
opening your shirt for his switchblade
or rushing him quick w/a fist
           coming out of your jacket
until he has to shoot you
once between the breasts and the
heart explodes

Once you've called the bluff
of the Thousand Midnights and busted
that myth of the
         one   true   love

as if it were a bar room mirror
that's checked you out
          once too many times
          to be looking
          for something other than a fight

You begin to feel like you owe
someone an explaination or
worse
that no one is asking anymore
for anything

So you write a poem on
flash paper and touch it
w/your cigarette

Or make phonecalls @ 3am
to the parents of old friends
who just
hang up on you

Once when I was 12
I murdered a small
           brown toad
in the woods behind
the neighbor's house

And nothing happened.
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