he was warned

by Gabriel Ricard

He’s happy for a minute,
but then he notices an older woman
passing by in a car.

An awful lot of frailty can be jammed
into the time it takes him
to notice how she’s very frail,
wears a bandanna to hide the fact
that she has no hair
and smokes what has to be her favorite brand of cigarette.

In the name of a kind of ecstasy that might disappear
when the future becomes very dim
without a graceful bow to precede the awful magic trick.

He thinks about giving up cigarettes,
but traveling by car is still stressful,
and they just lowered the price of a pack
by a whole dollar.

He also just started one a few seconds ago,
and if he’s learned anything from a lifetime
of being shaken awake by old photographs
trying to stop his breathing,
it’s to not waste anything he’s started.

Even if it’s a bad habit.

The woman had Nevada plates,
so, he overthinks things,
and imagines something or someone of great, last-minute importance
has brought her all the way to South Carolina.

Or wherever the hell they are.

He was watching the girl driving the car
change dresses in the backseat
when he should have been paying attention to the road.

Another bad habit.
Like asking someone to show you the ropes with downed power lines.

Or noticing people who wanted to go
to the store and back. Without being stared at.

why not,
asking someone to describe the sle(ep) eaz(y) skate parks,
the religious leanings of the immigrants selling fruit
or the long, distressed block of abandoned fried chicken shacks.
While the sirens dance towards him from the left,
and butcher his senses from the right.

Bad habits all around.
Bad habits for any clothing-optional occasion.

He knows that living well wouldn’t make
for much of a revenge on anybody.

And besides,
he thinks,
as she tells him that love is a matter of how much you can take,
good psychological hygiene is just too much bloody work.


Author's Note: credit goes to the writers of "the simpsons" for the sle(ep) eaz(y)reference.

Posted on 03/26/2012
Copyright © 2022 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Shannon McEwen on 03/26/12 at 02:20 AM

ha, here's to bad habits, we all have 'em, it makes us interesting. As always your poems provide a great visual

Posted by Tim D Livingston on 03/26/12 at 02:54 AM

I like the downed power lines line. And about going to the store not wanting to be noticed. It also reminds me of David Sedaris' book in reference to smoking, When You are Engulfed in Flames.

Posted by LK Barrett on 03/26/12 at 01:37 PM

...go for the trifecta, my friend. Tell me you wrote this texting at 90mph on the number one lane on the beltway...and now I am a happy woman; get on down with your bad self. You continue to inspire me for all the right reasons. Thank you! lk

Posted by Joe Cramer on 03/27/12 at 09:52 AM

... so very excellent.....

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