Walter Edgewater and His Subjects

by Kevin Shea

I CAN'T REMEMBER what it's like to be
engrossed in someone else's thoughts.
It’s strange, unnatural, to have little
 
time to interpret, investigate, every minute
problem in this little world, in this little body.
I climb the creaky stairs to the water-
 
soaked rooftop, damp from the latest
thunderstorm. An abandoned dining room chair sits
in the corner of this former attic, blinking
 
with the fluorescent bulbs overhead, puny
pulsating strobe lights. No one sits there tonight.
Come to think of it, no one ever sits
 
there, but there's always the hope that the chair
gets some sort of use. Unlock the dead bolt, stomp
onto the deck, nearly slip, plunk into the weather-
 
beaten patio chair, light a cigarette. Take a drag, burp
a little burp. Tastes like Nutter Butter Bites. This is all wrong—
I just took that over-the-counter Prilosec. That should've done
 
the trick. Wait--I'm a writer. Well, I used to be.
What’s it been, six months since any ideas have been recorded
on paper?  Six months. All these thoughts, constantly firing
 
through singed synapses, usually wasted on drool-
covered pillowcases and unwashed sheets. Not tonight, god
damnit. Tonight, we write. After the Sox game. Downstairs, I will
 
set out to write a poem. Right--a poem. The poet will burst
from this fleshy encasement and reclaim his rightful place.
I will once again be a poet and I will scream it from this rooftop.
 
Only a few more hauls left until this cigarette is exhausted.
A detail, something of use: a dead end sign in my not-too-distant view,
collecting the constant, nagging flutter of a yellow traffic light.
 
Keeping that one in the ol' memory bank. Last haul,
usually the best. I stand up, expertly flick the butt,
my too-short Umbros riding up my ass, and rise to deliver
 
my long-awaited proclamation. I open my mouth,
bleat a bilious belch to the bicyclist passing below,
who continues unmolested on his way.

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