Dance Up a Storm (with Gabriel Ricard)

by Therese Elaine

You gotta know when to get the hell out of town
after starting one of those fires with an imagination all its own,

And then sometimes you just gotta know when to shut up,
keep the music low and trust that some brick walls
are just leftovers from the days when the traveling show
was as big a city and twice as threatening.

Sometimes it’s better to be seen instead of heard.

There comes a time when you've got to cut your losses
and stop paying taxes on a heart that was boarded up and abandoned long ago,

And you're never going to call in all those IOU's
because you know better than to make a paper trail
that would lead you right back to that coldwater flat
you burned down a hundred times before.

There's just bad odds against ever evening the score.

Or you can just wake up, take your medicine
and get ready for the parade that moves like a lifetime
in a thirty-second slideshow. Some of the performers
are old friends, and some of them have been melting
in the middle of winter for longer than these old restaurants
and casinos have been alive.

You don’t have to make up your mind about them
just yet, but sooner or later
you might wish you had believed in something
when there was time enough at last.

Some people collect books,
and some people collect left jabs
that leave a concussion bruise every single time.

Sometimes your eyes open on a prayer that sounds like a scream
and you wash it down with last night's liquor, and you swallow
against the silence that speaks volumes in that carnival motel,
where you're just another non-entity getting grit in your eyes.
There are always better places to start from scratch
but sometimes you can't afford to take a gamble
on anyone remembering your name.

Sure, it's easier to move on when you never really stopped
and disappointment is the only thing you've tied yourself to,
but breaking bread with ghosts
starts leaving you feeling more than a little hollow.

You can outrun a lot of things
and some you can beat to the punch
but the end of the road always arrives in due time

And the end of the line is just a lot
of cosmic sarcasm and lazy writing. There is no end
that’s been found as of this thought, and all good things
do not begin in the middle of the night.

They also don’t necessarily end on a high note.

Some of them have been known to grab
the downtown subway train by its tinfoil heart
and reveal everything before the fire spreads.

Before the other weirdoes around you
suddenly learn to play like a fifty-piece band
while drinking loaded coffee from ancient tin cups.

It’s a scene that sneaks up on you.
It greets you and talks loudly over the music
as though you’ve been around before and understand
the words that are bound to lose their nerve in all that racket.

And the end of the day is too familiar
with all those phantom aches and pains,
reminding you of every second chance you short-changed,
and all of your good memories are packed away
in some cold-storage saving grace.

When you think of home, you get the taste of asphalt in your mouth.

You stop looking in mirrors, and just shut off the lights,
on a tongue dripping sawdust, eyes like a war-wound,
and nicotine fingertips constantly tapping an SOS.

This will sometimes catch you off guard
but you're long past the point of surprise,
and you move to the rhythms of regressive reform;
a consistent beat of emotional perjury accompanying you
while history and eloquence and sidewalks scatter
like a broken strand of pearls before you.


Author's Note: My first collaboration with Gabe, and though it was long overdue, it happened at just the right time...it's hard to keep up with someone of his caliber, but it's a good feeling to be pushed so creatively.

Posted on 01/16/2011
Copyright © 2021 Therese Elaine

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Paul Lastovica on 01/17/11 at 01:10 AM

two powerhouse patheticians joining forces makes me giddy

Posted by V. Blake on 01/17/11 at 06:22 PM

My eyes lit up as soon as I saw the combination of names. This is exactly as amazing as it should have been, which is to say that it is quite goddamn amazing. Don't let this be the last time you work together.

Posted by Tony Whitaker on 01/18/11 at 01:47 PM

Wow, what a great collaboration. How was it done! I will email you two and see what each created and how you finalized it. Brillinat!

Posted by A. Paige White on 01/20/11 at 05:06 AM

"because you know better than to make a paper trail
that would lead you right back to that coldwater flat

AKA sweetwater
Sweeeeeet water has the flavor of dejavu on the receptors to the inside YOUR jaw (not that dna sample drawn from inside my jaw while I was already rendered unconscious from my decions)

Posted by Glenn Currier on 02/14/11 at 06:54 AM

"breaking bread with ghosts" - memories packed away...cold storage - grace. This poem has so much jagged movement - as if bumping up against the walls of buildings in an old European winding alley, each time waking up to some new awareness, regret, pain. It is as if I could see you two in that alley grasping hands then letting go for another bump on the walls. Fascinating. Wonderful.

Posted by Morgan D Hafele on 05/26/11 at 06:14 AM

you guys killed it! it flowed seamlessly and the words you guys put together, amazing! took me too long to get to it, but damn was it worth it.

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