Impromptu reading

I spit out my words
defensively, apologetically
arms clutching my waist

reading my poetry aloud
makes the words too real
grants them extra power and substance

as if reading publicly
makes the words too real
grants them extra power and substance

first I need prompting
from their black-and-white shapes
but soon memory takes over

little bits and pieces
of my soul launched into the air
like miniature paper airplanes

please let them sail
smoothly into ears and hearts
not careen off stony faces, acid tongues

for my ego is weak
how will I take news that my precious
planes are lost in sea or jungle river

all this
because I was forced to read
impromptu

maybe my words flew
out the window and boarded
a freight train – oh, those eternal trains

even now my words
are bound for exotic places like
Kansas City, Fargo, Salinas

where they must
need poetry, right? packed next to
wire coils and stacks of tires

a boxcar full of air
swirling words birthing tornados
dissolving and re-forming in seconds

a man with thick gloves
and overalls will open the doors
duck quickly to the ground

flying to freedom
my words almost shave his head
next stop Kalamazoo, Trenton, Foxboro

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