[the secret ingredient in coca cola]  
It was leaves & gasoline & water, then paste, then bricks, then blow. It was up, then down, then up up & away. Then crash. Then cracked, vapor-full, in & out & in as long as you can hold it. Pinch your nose, close your throat. Puff & puffed & given. Cut & fluffed & re-rocked. It was lines, then clouds, then smoked until your eyes burst, until you can’t taste the stains on your teeth. Until you don’t notice the smell. 

[the trick is not sneaking out the trick is not getting caught]  
Out a window, through a glass door, over a fence. Collect hood ornaments by the shoebox full. We learned to walk around the streetlight orbits, between clods swept off the moon. We learned there are too many stars, too much dying. We got good at climbing into cover, the folds of darkness where we hid as long as we could hold our breath, until the sirens arrived at other nearby trespasses. 

[at this automated teller the exchange rate is always fair] 
Autopay & deposits in my knuckles, fingers filled with shards of angry bones. Whipped not buttercreamed. Short on the sides & back. High & tight. A fraction of a percentage. Same difference. One size fits & starts, fits some but not all. Batteries & piggy banks & bottled water, pickled & canned. Nothing missed: a six pence, a threepenny opera, an ounce of blow, of gold, of plug nickels, of dollars penniless down to the cent.   

[why the first day of the month doesn’t start with zero]  
It was yesterday, then tomorrow, then tomorrow comes today. Temporary as grass stains, permanent as fingerprints on a photograph developed chemically. An unstable element, under-developed, over-exposed. More permanent than the most metallic silver marker, unless by marker we mean to say grave, mean to read headstones, mean here lies someone once known, who worked on solving the equation for depression before we held them in place, before we carried their zero.  

[the final frontier will not be included on the final exam]   
The equation to solve depression needs space. Room to grow, range around, juxtapose like an unbridled pony & a field of dandelions. The magic bean looks more like a cactus button under xmas lights, glowing like a happy fungus. Show me happy, show me money. Show me chapter & verse where money changers don’t catch the whip & keep their tables unturned. Show me pen & paper & a dark sky preserve. Balance money & happy on a scale, see what feathers up.  



Ryan Collins is the author of A New American Field Guide & Song Book (H_NGM_N Books). Recent poems have appeared in BoothCosmonauts Avenue; Forklift, OhioNinth Letter; and Prelude. He hosts the SPECTRA Poetry Reading Series in Rock Island, IL.  



Twitter: @Ryan_R_Collins


Instagram: @ryanrichardcollins