One More Time, with Feeling

by RACHEL MCKIBBENS

 

When I was nineteen

I stole a gun. The drug dealer

next-door, blitzed out

of her skull, didn’t

see me

pull it from her

kitchen cupboard.

 

As the California sun

sank below the

foothills, I haunted

the neighborhood,

screaming your

doomed name.

I was ready.

A death-wish Romeo

beneath your bedroom

window. Split once

a neighbor threatened

to call the cops.

 

I never told you this story.

 

Not because I regret

what I did, was prepared

to do—those forty-five

minutes of havoc, hunting

down your head.

 

Back then, I wasn’t shit.

Just electrified violence.

All fists, piss & safety pins,

an unwed teenage mother

with no address.

 

You had parents. Freckles.

A three-story house. I’d listen

to you spit your angsty

fiction while I slept in parks

& ate from garbage cans.

 

When I learned you were

coveting the man I loved,

I felt my insides darken,

cursed your well-fed

royalty disguised as grit.

 

Got tired of the forgery,

wanted all the black-eyed

wealth to myself:

BANG, you’re dead.

 

Wish I could say I've put

those days behind me,

that I never fall into

the steel-weight daydream

of a gun’s hard lesson.

 

1995—half my life ago—still,

every time you call

to bitch about your latest

ex-soulmate or DUI,

one more kid taken

from you by the state

 

I want to tell you

about the only night

you survived.

When something

said fall asleep

& you did.

 

Crashed hard

with a starving bitch

& pistol at the ready,

birds still singing

in the half-daylight.

 

I’ll say it here, right now,

one more time with feeling:

it was the only moment

in this wretched life

a god was on my side.