Devil Is What You Know

I stood at the crossroads and up came the devil, smiling, in a shiny red suit, good teeth, not pointed, no claws. The horns were discrete.

“Nothing easier than choosing,” said she, and I guess that’s right. It’s the living with the choice that ain’t easy.

I didn’t get here by crawling. I clawed, up a wall, scaled a scary height, looked down, leapt off. It was easy to do, just let go, and regret it, all the way down.

That’s the way it’s been, lately. Not easy. Torn out at the seams, like the parachute—failed. Tore myself out of the plane, which was going down, screaming, but I screamed all the way down, eyes shut against the miles and miles of blue.

My nightmare is that I’m awake. Say what you will, she-devil, but this ain’t fun. Fun ain’t this. Fun is standing at the crossroads, playing mean guitar, shaking my soul loose, like a barrette, like my hair in pigtails. That’s over with, now.

Now the she-devil comes, shiny red lips. She leans in, as if she’d tell me something I don’t know. All she says is, “Motherfucker.” Like that’s new. Like that’s worthwhile. Like that’s the point. Finally I feel a breath on my neck, smell that lizard-stink exhale.

“What you want, you can’t have. What you can have, you don’t want. You think I did that? Motherfucker.”

She’s always such a sweetheart. Such a liar. I drew in this breath, I clawed to the top, that was me.

“You can’t have what you want.”

“Liberty and justice for all?”

“No, egalité and fraternité. Who do you think raped the queen and her daughters? The motherfucking brotherhood. Don’t tell me lies.”

So that’s why I feel so bad. Will nothing every change?

What you can you have, you don’t want, and what you want, you can’t have.

I want to give up being restless, give up slapping men on the back for being boys, stop asking for things I don’t want. I promised to use my powers for good. Didn’t I?

I stood at the crossroads, held my crossed fingers behind my back, prayed.

“What did you want?” comes the lizard-stink. “For me to promise? No promises here.”

Out the door, out the window, out the plane, falling, o shit, what have I done.

Then you land.