The night you made me believe
it was simple to blow smoke rings
I tried for four hours straight
until my mouth tasted like it had sand in it
and finally blew one solitary ring,
flat on my back.
And I jumped up
overly excited at the fact that I did it
but once you asked me to show you
I lost the talent
to make smoke bend.
And I haven’t tried since.
Those guitar strings you kept wrapped around my wrist
could only hold me for some time
and once I snapped those
I ran from every piece of wisdom
anyone had ever given me.
The night I felt the bones in my nose shatter
heard them pop as though they were releasing demons
and caught that first drop of blood
with my whitened fist
I realized I wasn’t invincible.
And I looked at you
when you asked me
if this was all worth it.
The answer I gave you
is still only known by the three of us
but to this day
I have held to it
and believe in that moment
my entire life changed.
Once, some time later,
I forgot where I came from
but my reflection hovering
above the table
as the powder burned my sinus cavity
reminded me what I promised myself
And I can honestly say,
I don’t remember much of that 5 hour drive home
or the next 48 hours I spent at your house
too drunk to feel
the adrenaline and hormones
going crazy inside me.
I clearly remember though
when you looked me dead in the eyes
asked me if I felt good
and put every bit of strength
into that punch
knocking my shoulder back
and my body flat.
After the sun faded
and you joined me in the darkness
I turned towards you
and whispered to your poker face
“I’m not invincible”
You fished a pack of Red’s
from the breast pocket of your flannel
handed me one
tossed a lighter to my chest
and without commenting on my testimony
began blowing smoke rings at the stars.
Because you of all people knew
that even if I realized this now
in a short time
I’d again forget
the talent of bending smoke.