In Vermont, Professor Ledge
taught flute and ate corndogs
in springtime. He sported
a patchy beard, an amputated arm,
and the students called him Saint
Rattlesnake. He smelled of peonies
and violets. One day after practice
I asked him if he wanted to cop some
junk. I dig it, but can’t. A flicker
of excitement in his eyes, he shrugged
and grimaced, and that surprised me.
I don’t know why — I thought I had
a new client who’d sacrifice groceries
for nods of smack. Mr. Ledge was no
invalid, nor hostile. I followed him
home once, knocked on his door.
He invited me in, pulled back the curtains.
On the sagging couch an ermine stole lay
on the arm rest. Bongos surrounded us.
Can you — he interrupted me with a sigh
and retrieved an enameled model aircraft
on a nightstand. Warriors these pilots were,
Matthew. Nothing to long for. Strolling
to the kitchen, we unlatched the door
and climbed a ladder to the roof.
Take a leap, kid, be a warrior,
he dared, a rattlesnake in his eyes.
Fuck you, fluteflake, I answered,
hauling more ass than I knew I had.
– David Spicer