Stunts in Your Rhythm: Check


poem by Tony Mancus


laughs in your sidecar
cheap-o whisky
bolts on the teevee
nails in all the treelines

balancing the powers that be = weather forecaster,
long-form tax filings, new booths in the diner, glimpses
of neighboring genitalia,

the psychic for $5 will let you in
on all your well-swept fears, say the lines we’re
busy drawing, say the lottery

where the whole town
shells its bullets, an equation hard
to escape from

the crosstown grocer wears his apron
and all the remains of the meat
he’s cleaved each day

in a story the students read
about a girl who thinks she’s got
dirt etched into her skin

because a butcher tells her not
to touch the tow-headed doll
that talks the way we all want to
when someone pulls a string inside us

and the sound of each kiss
undoes the latch
that’s locked

a key-tune, turned inside
who knows how many times
before the engine, before the door starts

open. we letter our love and climb to bed
we take the train to workstations, dabbling
in soundtrack, apathetic to strangers

our future history getting dragged
by the truckload into pennsylvania
the stoned-key state where latches go to rust

each flourescent bulb leeching and mercurial
each new frackville setting the water to fire
or drawing us back to our coalstained glory

with new machines (and similar monetary dreams
sub-divided. barons swearing better product
cleaner burn to the word and whether or not
you want your check to also take your silver-
tongued neighbors home)…

i went down, down, down
and the bottle burned to coke
the ash to each body

a cross on the nail-head
as it’s pressed by force
into the coffin—



Tony Mancus