The Pipe at Fourteen and the Smoke at Twenty-four
At an age that you would least suspect,
I used to bandy half-baked intellect
with fever. I called them fabrications;
those that could twist imaginations
to their limit, sometimes further.
A child's mind is prone to nurture
suspense. Grim faces waited to explode
as I fed them tales that made them cold
and blazing. Darkness spun their fear
and anxious eyes would draw so near
a skillful yarn could throw them back
set them off on a hundred tracks
and three feet away before the tale was done.
They'd squirm as they inched but none
every spoke or left before it ended.
Often, when I least intended
to stay, I'd let them cajole me
into another. Some even told me
they wanted to be scared to death.
With sardonic smile, I'd drag their breath
into the grisly heart of it.
With greatest caution I'd admit
my sudden hand upon a shoulder
and jumped them almost ten years older
in a second. Some compassed a returning
after that. Now a decade's churning
later, my poems reveal those mysteries
without benefit of darkness or these.