As if I’d know what it’d mean, 
you said you saw me in a half-forgotten dream. 
It seems I’m to beat to quarters with a 
great hullabaloo & giddy whoops seeped in 
the intoxicating fumes of drunken victory 
snatched from the remains of my most 
recently drained bottle of wine.
In Vino Veritas, I can’t recall its vintage. 
It must’ve been halfway decent since I rarely 
drink swill. Well, except for most days, 
all day, & twice on payday.
It’s hardly habit-forming or evidence of 
a malfunction in my cranial chemistry. 
Hopefully, it’s a cosmic joke, not the quirk
of a few dozen misfiring synapses. 
They were so damnably close to the 
correct formula but fudged it when 
the overseer was on his smoke break.
I can hardly bemoan their shoddy craftsmanship 
because I’ve cut a few corners in 
my time on Earth. I think I should get 
my brain judiciously examined, but my 
doctor assures me he can’t do it until I die. 
Trying to win a smile, I tell him 
not to threaten me with a good time. 
Stone-faced, he neglects to oblige.
Thankfully, I see his nurse’s eyes crinkle above 
her surgical mask. Huzzah! My mostly 
mediocre performance didn’t bore the entire 
audience to tears. Perhaps she’s doing it to 
be polite & put my insecure mind at ease. 
That, indeed, I’m not the butt of the joke; 
she’s laughing with me, never at me.
I’d take a sardonic chuckle thrown in 
the general direction of anywhere I’ve been 
in the past few years to feel like someone 
has seen my shadow flit from then to there. 
Lingering overlong on thoughts solitary, 
I probably qualify for clinical neuroticism.
Or maybe that’s the hyper-focus imbued by 
over-imbibed Adderall, ensuring I ingest only 
nicotine, regret, & caffeine. Then again, 
neurotic is just another word for cliche, as 
starving artist is a trope most passe.
I can’t appropriate Victorian-era opium, nor 
possess the inclination to contract consumption, 
tuberculosis, or whichever wasting disease best 
catches your fancy. Though a failure to thrive 
really did wonders for the old cheekbones, 
my god, those portraits were sharp enough to 
cut your morning toast with, & no, 
I don’t want beans on my portion, 
thank you very much.
Anglophobia is obviously alive & well because 
that’s one gastronomic ideal you shan’t 
imprint upon my poor, unwitting lizard brain. 
Painfully, you nudge me in the ribs. 
Inhaling sharply, I shoot a look that screams, 
what pray tell, was that for? Smiling knowingly, 
you raise an eyebrow almost imperceptibly, 
your forehead perfectly unlined by 
life’s laughable absurdity.
You’re unperturbed by the troubles of 
foolish mortals like myself, who suddenly 
understands he overuses the phrase
lizard brain with hackneyed clumsiness. 
My flash of recognition must be 
evident because you stifle a snort & 
squeeze my leg reassuringly. 
Yes, I’m alive, & 
you’re still sitting next to me.
I’m the luckiest son of a gun this 
side of the Rio Grande, & though not a 
betting man, I’d wager your brain against 
anyone across the land. You’d run rings around 
their roses while collecting pocketfuls of posies 
& did you know that that nursery rhyme is 
about the bubonic plague?
With a glance, you hush me as that’s the 
seventh time I’ve mentioned that anecdote at 
your family’s potluck. They’re sadly steadfastly 
unilluminated to the truth scribbled in your 
old high school journal, reminding us that
real eyes realize real lies.

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