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.