We used to have silly contests,
see who could hold their breath longest,
when we were kids, didn't know better.
Never once did I win, usually red-
faced and sucking air within a
minute, while my competition held on.
One kid could go almost two minutes,
by unofficial count - none of us owned
a watch with a second hand - always won.
If you call passing out, hitting the deck
winning, which I don't, but the kid
became something of a folk hero to us.
Hated that stupid game, glad to outgrow it.
When I reached the point where blackness
overtook me, gravity seemed to fade away,
it was time to quit, reacquaint with the
pull of polarity, fill lungs with purity.
Funny now, looking back, trying to leave
the solid pull of gravity, float into a
stupor of pure stupidity, winning nothing.
It happens on occasion these days when
least expected, usually walking my dog,
Marco, who pulls me along until I begin
to sweat, get dizzy, lurch more to side
than forward, bladder suddenly full,
making gravity difficult to put in its
proper place, below feet that wobble,
stumble, ready to fall, black out, earn
finally the respect of my peers for being
the last one of us to suck in breath.
Bill Roberts has had a thousand poems published in nearly 200 online and small-press magazines (including Chantarelle's Notebook, HazMat Review, Long Story Short, Main Street Rag, Rattle and Thick With Conviction, to name a few). One poem was nominated for Best of the Net in 2009, another received a Pushcart Prize nomination. He has finally retired from consulting on nuclear weaponry, dreams of a far-off day when all WMD are negotiated to the scrap heap. Bill lives quietly in Broomfield, Colorado and can be contacted at email@example.com.
back to issue 11
take me home