Superstitious Hyperrealist

July 7, 2014

I was the sort of girl

who thought everything was a sign

 

A train delay meant I
should take off for somewhere else —
Philly or New York
Pittsburgh or Cincinnati

 

A wallet dropped next to a toilet
meant
that I’d always be broke
(but any fool can pay the bills)

 

A laptop that crashed and deleted
everything, twice
meant it wasn’t time
to tell that particular story

 

The fires that followed me
through St. Louis and back
to Chicago:
abandoned tenements, cop cars, trash cans
set smoldering
meant
I should burn my bridges
and grin broadly

 

The shoe that fell from my
foot and down the stairs
as I stumbled home
from the taqueria, drunk and stoned,
meant
that I was obviously
no Cinderella
There was no prince there to
pick it up

 

The old man playing accordion below
my bedroom window
The herd of cranes roosting
in the eerie dawn near Archer Avenue
could mean
anything

 

I consulted the tarot cards three
times a day
They gave me the same answers
over and over, but I
kept asking
“Travel,” they whispered, “and
temptation.”
“Signs and signals.”
And always, the three of swords.
“Heartache, sorrow.”
Cupid, have mercy, on

 

a superstitious hyperrealist
such as me

 

I was the sort of girl
who stuffed my pockets full of
good luck charms,
odds and ends which looked
like junk to
other people

 

Lighters with no fluid left in them
crumpled ticket stubs
New Jersey quarters
caps pried from bottles of
Yuengling, Red Stripe, Pabst
Blue Ribbon

 

I was the sort of girl
who made wishes on
burnt matches
train whistles
green shoes
the gray-white clouds made
by smokestacks
the floating fuzz of the
cottonwood trees in June

 

The charms didn’t bring me much good
luck and when my wishes came
true I realized
I should’ve been more
careful what I wished for

 

And now I wish —
I wish that I still wished
I wish that I could still
change things with the
sheer force of my belief

 

I don’t consult the tarot cards so
much these days, because
I don’t want to hear
what they have to say

 

Cupid doesn’t visit me
anymore

 

I don’t see signs everywhere
My life is easier,
and less shiny

 

Now, the junk just looks
like junk

 

But my beer bottle cap
just told me:
“Be your own orchestra”

 

I’m only one person, no longer a girl, but I’ll
stick that bottle cap in
my pocket
and try to believe
I can be my own punk
orchestra
who, in lieu of bridges
and cop cars,
can set her words on fire
and watch the flames
while grinning broadly

 

with way too many teeth

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© Copyright 2014-2019 by Jessie Lynn McMains