How to Flip the Beat

Wesley Rothman

When glass or glass water flips the skyline,

lines against the sky, sky against the lines;

when color lines run parallel, the definition

of never touching; when cityscapes get flipped

by nightsticks and Maglites; when lights

magnify the bruise; when suburban grids

sprawl; when sprawl is a face-down position,

fingers itching to escape; when city blocks bruise

orange with street lamp; when engine idle

breathes the metronome for your morning;

when the beat keeper keeps the beats from you

it beats keeping up with bruises; when blue

flashes stutter red, cold-hot on cinderblock;

when your block smolders with the cinders

of slugs, souls flung from their copper

casings; when hammers drive combustion;

when hammers drive the rail tie, when white

is a clean sheet, a pasty face, a mean beat;

when fear rattles off its mating call; when

you think you hear violence; when honesty

loses its fierce stride; when glass buildings

look back at you, the mirror of a city’s

state of mind; when concrete makes love

to busted windows; when orange light dyes

the window shards; when windows

and eyes die; when wardrobes turn orange;

when it’s easier to wear dread

on your face; when dread is a teardrop

inked near your eye; when bruises

remind you of your skin or the dark

of your lover’s eye; when bar bells drop

like hammers in the yard, in the garage;

when bells mean funeral; when shots

wake you from a dream about the first time

you felt the beat of a belly, when you fell

into the beat’s sweet thump, thump-thump?

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