Corbin Louis

We Did

and we were the first to shoot the clock
no doubt    it was us    13-yr-olds sitting
stone cold on the guardrails

i saw an opportunity    to sneak out
and toy with the gods    some fortune
faded    the whole circus was lit up
and danny boy knew a thing or two
about stealing cars and showing off
his mom’s crack pipe

what a house party    that left so many
throats stripped bare    all about    just
cans on cans    and the strongest of us
on both feet    with the last drop
poured onto morning    a pirate’s life

no one knew which way the train
was coming    but we knew it was coming
all those tracks lined with pennies and
lighters    the flash    of butane bright red
like a marigold smashed into planets

and even though the wasteland
even though the deadline    missed
and even though    the odds were rain

on those nights    we screamed    such
black eyes punched out walls the size of
katherine’s worst day    so massive
in a petri dish of red bulls and nicotine

my god    what an inhale
perhaps best describes as
nitrous mouth    or twenty cans
of aerosol    that each one
would breach the education
and leave us soft as a baby skull

in a pile of slush    thirty days spent
melting on the driveway    but someone
always called a rally    to the back lot
to the mall    into bonfires    a stack
of boxes burned by the coming
of our last ditch

however tired    those gatherings
documented only by chipped paint
danny had a bone to pick and the room
ended up being a wishbone    but mike
broke up the whole thing    and just
laughter in the fields    just a bell

yet a dozen more times
charcoals burned    i made excuses
like clockwork and forgot the loose
ends of a lie about taking it all

of poison    of cheers    of dying
no matter the time or backstreet
we had to get there    to a basement
or a front yard    especially on friday

we had to arrive    at some point
just to pull off our jaws and taste
the laughing gas    just to break
into the storefront of a good time

and we did
no doubt     just about all of it
including the long night
or a noise complaint
and the coyote on fire
including the sky sliced in two
the dreadnaught of noon
yeah    we did


I drew blood for this city. Which is often called elite. I drove with the high beams on, circling the block. Infinity. The Chevy windows rolled down and all my boys hollering ‘west side’ till their voices split: Northend. 29-years of panic attacks. Enough Xanax to wipe out a generation. Yet somehow, I survived. Somehow I pushed on, flapping in the breeze like a scarecrow made of avalanche. Years of cartoons stuck in my brain. Flashbacks from when I was terminal with dope love. I took hit after hit. I rolled up my sleeves and did the work. Until I got lazy. Until I got lost and sat on the curb, smoking Juul with ex-lax in my nose. And in that moment, I decided, or realized, that I was nothing but a can of Axe Body Spray. That all these decades, I was an orphan Cheeto. Everything in my being, simply a stolen traffic cone on a night where half my friends called me ‘runaway.’ These suburbs of Magnolia. These frozen pipelines, winter turned gargoyle and the ice sculpture of dime bags, such plastic gods, the Aurora freaks who dealt 21 and died by 30. What can I do? To prove my galaxy. How can I show you this museum of burritos? Wall to wall, packed with iPhones. Do you have any idea how many Red Bulls fit into my orphanage? Or the amount of Demerol I can snort in a basement room with no windows. I have missed the deadline. On everything. From ballots to resurrection. None of my friends wore helmets. All of them were concussed. And in that knockout we became outlaw stars. We became the shine off spurs and the empty lot. So vividly did our strip malls glisten. In perfect harmony to the broken dryer. On the first day of a two-week notice that wasn’t honored. Management left a voicemail. But in the name of skateboarding all records of all things shall be deleted. Like court files. Like the internet. Which is nothing but a laughable attempt to house our mansions. Those wide gates of Babylon we call Gemini or breakup. Or any name we give to describe the holy scab. Self-made. I have written the song of callous. So many times. I have dictated the facts. That I am a time bomb of nicotine. That living leaves you spun. Blown apart into so many days, that the shrapnel of every weekend starts to look like a mummified Walkman. Callous. The hardship of moving on. The big blinds. All those fees that bleed us softly. Not just parking tickets. Not just e-charge. But the cost. The real cost. The total atom bomb of it. The aftershock of 5am, 2-decades straight, high on sugar, or meth, with fluoride SPF, GMO, HSV-1, DSM-5, Pepsi sewage pumping through the water mains. How can I tell you? That I am alkaloid. That my DNA is a string of Big Bites and I have watched my generation become nerve gas. I said yes to the experiment. A lot of us did. A lot of us said yes and again. Add to cart. Camel crush. No refill remains but for the love of our country please let the rain stop so we can hit the beach and filet our brains with 4G. If it’s the last thing I do. Let it be a pit stop to 7/11. Let it be a re-run. More than anything, let it be a way to feel good. Or a road that leads back home. Because I’ve been looking for a longtime.

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