WHEN I WAS MAYBE TWELVE YEARS OLD

i jammed a piece of pencil lead into the skin over my heart

this is a true story
it never came out
the skin grew over it
and i am convinced that little freakin piece of lead is shuffling around inside of me still
it mostly squats in my skull
listening to bad 90’s music at three in the morning
reminding me how much life is a drag off a bummed cigarette
a piece of lead with a penchant for marcy playground and nada surf
when it’s not doing that it lodges itself into the joint of my knees
reminding me of my father
who sacrificed his knees to the insatiable gods of retail in return for warm meals

i like when the lead makes my knees sting a bit
sometimes the piece of lead goes to my liver
usually the weekends
it duct tapes my liver hostage and demands i waterboard him with whiskey unil he spills all his secrets
this piece of lead wreaks havoc in this vessel
little red cartoon demon with a pitchfork
sometimes he stands in front of my retinas
playing home movies of ex-girlfriends
stupid fights
sober drunken moments of pure cherished regret

in my nose he burns the incense of their perfumes
he meditates
and when he lodges himself in my heart i hate him most

he tugs at my heart strings like the ghost in the bell tower and i ring out everything everywhere all at once

i ring my mother’s chicken noodle soup
i ring my sister’s diamond soul
i ring my father’s fireplace hugs
i ring death waltzing with life
and the karma of martyred hearts

the cosmic kaleidoscope of america
i ring bad knees and good fridays and pilot episodes of life stories that rest in jars in doctor’s offices
i ring the towers falling down
and people without legs standing up

i ring the man whose job is to talk people out of suicides and i ring the times he fails
i ring for nothing – that lies between second hands stroking but i ring
everything everywhere for everyone ever all at once

sometimes the piece of lead travels to my pencil
but i just set the pencil down
don’t want to write him off just yet
this ghost in my belltower
i won’t let him out.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012

READ “REDHEAD (TO DENVER)”