from Stuart Dybek’s “Daredevil”
               a golden shovel poem 

Take a ticket scalper or the hand with an Indian scalp, ese gnawin on a Cuban spewing here’s
where you get yours and a cuppa broken knuckles that don’t scream no more, do what
you think they gotta do. Start massaging cab door cauliflower ears into silent fuzz, thinkin we
ain’t nothin, just butterflies and bees and muscle – masks you can’t fight right in. Come
out from ringing bells to answer ringing bells in anything but scars. Take a too
snug leather jacket splittin apples in two. Take shoulders that can’t hold hugs. Take what you see. 

Kinda like New York at Christmas, crooked ornaments on the back of a
skyline tree – ay muthafuckah, too cold for you ya waul-facing smaht-tawka Brahnx boy?
Gaht in a little trouble with thuh law wuntz or twice? Knows his way around tha in
side of a cell or the insides of himself? But doesn’t know how to fuhgettaboutit? Greasy
muthafuckah with stories too sharp for paper and a pencil that won’t not snap, jeans
ripped like scabs scorched and sing a song of raw skin, mom’s fresh kiss on a bloody t-shirt. 

If tough boy had tusks for every wince his smile would still exist on his baggy portrait plastered
on bus stops, bruised lung bleeding into respiratory world, warming the breeze to
incandescent breath funneling feelings back down through windpipe, right where his
teeth went. Now he’s eye candy for broken mirrors and cracked joints, heart veins scrawny
and mute, close to chest. The longer it takes to wind up, the worse you’ll wind up, told his ribs
that cracking under pressure, his thick skin and bone brain tattooing soul with words to live by. 

His spirit is a heavy watch you didn’t know needed winding. Room a notepad, now a
train, a staircase, a staring headcase. Wont admit he’s fuckin cold and shoulda brought a wind
breaker. Daredevil in a wifebeater with a knack for dropping flies lies on a webbed spine that
erodes. Won’t drop anything but everything, gravity of a head that hits the floor and doesn’t
quit falling. Take that back. Take care. Take this, take that. Can’t find it in his heart to blow
out the candles on a cake. Got no fuckin wish. Baby faced boy lookin for a sign to keep on. 

Scuffle at the meat store an alarm clock for his neck vein, eats and breathes a finger for those
who think twice about him. Refuses to turn the heat in his beater cause its been a sweltering
December. Take ice to your head. Take a foot to the ledge. Take a last look before you dip below.

Christian Thorsberg is a journalist and poet from the northwest side of Chicago. He drives a Grand Marquis and roots for the White Sox. His favorite moment in film: “Zed’s dead baby. Zed’s dead.”