Coffee at 11PM on a Saturday Night before Teaching Sunday School the Following Morning

by Jamie Laubacher (Univ. Mount Union)

Third Place

Sitting across from you at our McDonalds
watching your left eye twitch; you look
so tired. "It's lonely being scary," you say,
and ruffle up your mohawk-shaven hair,
and smack your pack of Marlboros against the table.
You tell me about the dirty looks you got
from the woman buying lottery tickets,
at the Circle K down the street:
"She cashed in her tickets for more tickets,
and acted like I wanna eat her kid."
I count the piercings in your face and sigh--
we were both raised under the
umbrella of their disapproval; glares,
curfews, silence at dinner, silenced in church.
But I set up my house behind their lines
while you hit the street like the lightning
they were always afraid you would become.

(They never really knew just what to look for,
but their sight sharpened when their hearing failed;
Your character never changed, only your clothes.)

"Everyone needs to stop," you say. You're tired.
You're a shattered molotov cocktail,
but I don't mind stepping around the glass
because I know you were almost a mesage in
a bottle. Almost a voice to save us all.
There's some glue in my back pocket, but
I don't think it'll work on you, kid.
I can only balance on the lines
and tell myself that this is where I'm needed.
Mediators are hard to come by here,
and who wants to be out of a job?
I'm a rumble, not a flash like you are,
but who else would follow in your wake
to voice the thoughts you never thought through
before you ran too fast and hit the ground?

I'd love to strike the lines and turn the power
out with you. Town-wide blackout. Riot.
But one of us has got to survive and I
am less suspicious to them anyway.

You smack your pack of Marlboros against the table
I count every piercing in your face and sigh.
I've beocme the girl who orders decaf.