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73| Balancing Act

David McAleavey


Holding out for more money, so deserved, or left holding the bag, barely
hanging on, then the trapdoor opens below you – you’re in the Alps of success,
cold, maybe lonely on the pinnacles, or you’re fetal-plummeting to nowhere,
sanguine or depressed, free agent in the marketplace of dreams, night,
day, pink sand beaches or in a cave with rats, Buddha-calm or electrotherapy,
west of West Bend or in the bright lights, fault whom you will, yours is the one
way, the dead end or the true path, the level water or the stone dropped in it.
Rest here on your warranted laurels, wake up damaged in the rocky ditch.
Firing your agent would be a good start. Do you even have an agent?
Liars’ prayers, not that all prayers are lies, but you’ll never tell them apart:
pirated goods can fool connoisseurs, the game of innocence could be innocent.
Binariness boils down to two-headed oneness. In dope and hope, crime or bliss.
Strong finish, or dumb luck? For your hard work, you should make what
longshoremen make; of course when they’re through, the hold’s empty, or full.

David McAleavey’s poetry has appeared in many journals, including Ploughshares, Poetry, and The Georgia Review; since early 2010 he has had over a hundred poems and prose poems in Epoch, Poetry Northwest, Denver Quarterly, Birmingham Poetry Review, diode poetry journal,, Stand, Drunken Boat, and dozens of others. His fifth and most recent book is HUGE HAIKU (Chax Press, 2005). He teaches literature and creative writing at The George Washington University.

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