My Number

I once had a magic number
that guided me through life.
If I was considering going on a trip
and saw my number at the same time
it meant I should take that trip.
But if a saw the number
that preceded my magic number
it meant it was too soon to go
or I’d missed my chance
if it was the number after mine.
It got to where I wouldn’t do anything
without my number’s confirmation.
God spoke to me through digital clocks.
Ahh, there’s my magic number,
what was I just thinking about?
Yes, it is time to order a pizza.
I’d pick up my phone and place my order,
telling them God wanted the sensory satisfaction
of double cheese and extra onion.
He lived through my taste buds, telling me what to eat.
Then a wind storm brought down a tree in my neighborhood
and with it the power.
My house was dark, the digital numbers gone.
When the power came back on
I no longer trusted my magic number
for how could God be silenced so easily.
Then I felt shame for letting a false god direct my life
like a prima donna Hollywood director.


I wish I had a tree in my yard
I could climb high into the sky
where I would look all around me
and see the edges of the Earth
where the oceanic waterfalls were said to be.
A tree so tall I could butter my toast
with the creamy essence of clouds.
A tree that would sway with the wind
like I was riding on the thigh of a giant.
I would climb to the top
where gravity faded to weightlessness.
I’d let go of my branch and drift off into space,
a speck of human pollen.


When we parked in the lot
and got out of the car,
my friend squatted next to the bumper
of the car next to us.
Using the fat magic marker
he carried with him everywhere,
he drew on the Bernie 2020 sticker.
Nervous, looking around to see
if we were being seen, I asked,
“What are you doing?”
He chuckled. “I love socialism.
What’s mine is theirs
and what’s theirs is mine.
And I like to draw boners
on all my Bernie stickers.”


My dad used to tell me
I could be anything I wanted,
but he’s dead now
and I know that was just something
you say to kids.
You can’t be something
unless you want it,
and if you don’t know
what you want
you’re screwed to drift
on the wind like smoke, dissipating,
while something you don’t want
is knocking on your door so loudly
that you wonder if it would be better
if you dissipated faster.


Whenever my birthday approaches
I start poking at my life with a stick.
More than halfway through it
and nothing is as I thought it would be.
My history is full of wrong turns
and dead ends I had to back out of.
I should’ve done this…
I should never have done that…
I don’t allow that life happens in the moment
and not while second guessing it
in a funk on the couch.