The Scene

(1st place in PCCA’s Awards for Poetic Excellence)

You don’t wake up knowing that today
will be one of the worst days of your life.
You just move through the hours,
until you are caught off-guard
by the spinning blue and red lights
from the side of the road,
grabbing your attention,
like stage lights snapping on,
while the rest of the world goes dark.

It felt like just like a movie scene,
so it was only fitting that it was Friday the 13th.
A cinematic close-up of your life turned film,
the side of the road turned horror story on display.

I pulled over at the sight of you,
and suddenly the street became stage.
I stood there as they read you your rights,
handcuffed your hands behind your back,
two arm lengths in front of my eyes,
searched your car for more paraphernalia,
proof of another non-recovered recovering addict.

I knew you were waiting for me to say something,
but I was never given this script.
The audience was waiting for my punchline,
as your head was pushed into the backseat
of a cop car with tinted windows,
feeling too much like a curtain closing.
I didn’t know my lines, but I ad-libbed for the sake of you
by mouthing “I love you” to you through the glass.
I wanted you to know that being locked up alone
doesn’t mean you are alone.
I wanted you to know that I wasn’t mad.

I wanted life to be like a film,
so I could edit your bad decisions out,
turn them into bloopers we could laugh about.

I never even auditioned for this part,
but my name is still rolling in the credits,
my name is still rolling off the tongues of the critics,
as if I could have somehow stopped you
from making the decisions
that led us to this.

Spoiler alert:
there are only a few ways this storyline ends—
an epilogue of you behind bars,
an institutionalized life as the backdrop,
or a eulogy soundtrack playing
as all the extras we forgot about
reappear to take a bow.
Roses placed upon your chest

as I exit stage left.

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