The Book Life

4.20 | April 21, 2010

I’m not so big on heroes,
unless they’re the degenerate type, it seems.
A boy in my high school poetry class,
for example. He wore a black Rancid sweatshirt
every day, and his black hair was never clean.
He liked to say he was going to corrupt me,
and I was too naive
to even guess what that might mean.
Then in college there was Erin
of the dyed red hair.
She was beautiful, also adorable,
covered in freckles. Again, in my poetry class,
though her writing was much better
than Rancid’s. Her hair wasn’t always clean,
either, one of that town’s adopted pseudo hippies,
suburban kids who show up and stop shaving,
start smoking pot and buy a bike.
The first time I ever smoked
was with this girl,
in a basement of a college house
late on some weekend night
and while I didn’t get anywhere even close to high,
I remember mostly how delighted she was to watch me try,
like how Rancid used to grin when he said he’d corrupt me.
So now mostly I just wonder where that delight came from,
and why these people come to mind when I think about heroes.
Did I look up to them? Down? I’m certain
I envied their freedom, but also,
they were so easy to please –
no achievement necessary,
just a little inhale,
try not to cough,
and release.

[PROMPT: Write about your hero, a hero, whatever. I didn’t notice until this very moment, putting the date in the title line, that this was a poem with pot in it. How appropriate.]

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