DC PLACES ISSUE

Michael Gushue

 

BIG BEN'S LIQUORS
N. Capitol and New York Avenues

Can you spare a quarter for a lucid moment?
There was the time my cash flow went dingo on me,
the time Mom gave me that look, that hard rain fell.
Have you ever been gut shot by a wrong turn?

As a safe bet, try to stall between stations,
hope to forget how bright the spot's glare is,
rather than face having to endure stopping
on a dime. But "hope to forget" is too glistening

a phrase: nobody hears it. It would be better
to wrap it like one of the homeless in felt
blankets, send it piebald to the streets and grates
and let it beg on its poor twisting feet for nickels.

It's a sure bet no one gives a plug nickel
for your thoughts, and, even more, no one
ever says "a penny for your feelings"--that's
economics for you. That's when I hold up a sign

saying: Will Work for Lucidity. Some people
find it sad, but I have to hurry to be sad or
I'll be late for being lucid and catch hell,
which hurts like hell, wakes me up, thinking:

how do we endure being full of these felt
moments: flares of brief joy, heart cut by birdsong,
a funnel of lamplight filled with snow, or the fourth
thing has slipped my mind: a sudden radio station

in the middle of a trip from K Street to Michigan,
lottery stubs carpeting the liquor store pavement
and pulling taut, speaking in their own voice: this
is the most important bet that you will ever lose.



Michael Gushue's work has appeared in the Indiana Review, American Letters & Commentary, Cream City Review, The Germ, and Redivider, among other places. He is co-coordinator of the Brookland Poetry Series, and poetry editor for Washington Spark. He works in international development and lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington DC with his wife and five children.

 

Published in Volume 7, Number 3, Summer 2006.

 

To read more by this author:
Michael Gushue
Michael Gushue: Audio Issue
Michael's Addictions
Michael Gushue on Anthony Hecht: US Poets Laureate Issue