“When in doubt, turn left.”

The story begins over bourbon.
The story begins in Brooklyn.
The story begins with him.

The story begins on a train,
As any decent story should.
With a woman dressed in red,
In the sixth row of the second car
Of a train leaving New York.
Shuffling toward Boston
As no decent character would.

Well, the story begins with me.
With poetry.

The engine nags the tracks,
With a hiss,
With a sigh.
To the silent treatment.
Plastic clicks of
Luggage compartments
Conductor’s announcements
Punctuate the sentences.
Drops of bourbon stain the second stanza.
Bleed though the paper
Reveal the mirror image of a
Girl’s phone number.

Here in row 6,
It could be any year.
Though it’s surely December.
The 23rd.
The day before the day before.
The air saturated with the roar
Of conversations stumbling toward an argument.
Reminders of the last minutes-
The Cousins they’ve forgotten.
The impulse purchases.
Timeless husbands making timeless mistakes.
In fact, it could be the days
Of men who still wore hats.
The whole scene filmed in black and white.
It could be

The page vibrates
My cell phone rings,
Reading the message on the screen,
I realize.
I exclaim,
             Oh shit. He read it.

The story begins with poetry
The story hinges on a mistake.

I met him on a Saturday afternoon that was meant for someone else.
What matters is the moment I turned left.
You see, I was caught.
Not in a lie, not yet.
Just standing in between two men.
I should have turned right,
But instead-

It all goes back to my mother.
To the days before I could drive a car
When we would wander.
Get lost in what we deemed
The Bermuda triangle of Boston
My mother taught me,
“When in doubt, turn left.”

Which, makes zero sense.
Which, in practice,
Has never lead me anywhere
I meant.
Instead, it’s usually the start of an adventure.
A story of the trouble
A woman like her could cause
A reminder
That she never warned me of the flaws
Of turning left.

To be continued…


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