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  • Michael Barnes

2019

All this time

Life appears to be not so much about

achieving heaven

but keeping hell at bay.

I’ve seen that I’m pushed along by the urge

Not to chase down the bus

and hop on mid-route

to catch up with the famous movie producer

to hand him my script

for a chance at the big time,

Not to karate-chop down five armed guards

to abort the nuclear bomb

preventing the annihilation of earth and all of humanity,

Not to save anyone.

I’m urged on by the chance to breathe a bit of clean air

amongst the smog and soot,

reducing the pollution

near my face and lungs,

to block a little space

between myself and the hell

that waits at my doorstep.


I’d like to say I’m improving

and growing

but it’s winter, and a cold one,

and I don’t get out much these days.

I cannot be certain

that I will even keep my new boots pristine

a couple times worn

past the day I unwrapped them.

I can only promise

I will not forget about the dirty trek

I took them thru—the towering wood trail

indented by dirt bike tracks and flanked by

ferns and fungi.

Once they’re dry,

I’ll pick out the caked dirt

with a butter knife

after they have sun-baked on the deck.


Shoes are for walking

and life is for living

and if I’m so graced with a pair of nice boots

I’m going out, and I’ll be back

when I’m good and ready,

yes, I’ll return.