Inside the Payola Lounge,
past the Wall of Balls glowing and spinning
out dreams in Acid Lime, Galaxy Blue, Sling-
shot Red, our parents drink
perpetual vodka tonics and chain-smoke
the cowboy cigarette.
My brother and I patrol the lanes, he looking
for what? A girl, an open beer. Me,
the intention, the aim, the follow-through.
Between these ordered lines, more than a sense
of direction: a clear, undisputed path,
tiny inlaid arrows eager to guide your way.
Who wouldn’t welcome certainty, its faith
so hypnotic? The destruction, crash, and groan
only manufactured thunder. Then suddenly—
rolling back into your open hands—a spare,
a second chance. In this world everything that gets
knocked down will get picked up again.
Candace Pearson’s poems have appeared in leading journals and anthologies nationwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, she won the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry for her collection, Hour of Unfolding. She scratches out her work in an old hiker’s cabin in the San Gabriel foothills, north of Los Angeles.