Rick Bursky

The second time we got together
she was magic. I was a gimmick.
I'm being hard on myself.
I'll start over. The second time
we got together she was what I wasn't.
We were learning the importance of a buoy
when a dorsal fin rises between whitecaps,
the importance of a pillow
between sleep and a pistol.

The waiter brought my salad and her soup.
Charming sounds of silverware against china.
As we walked to the car, night choked on darkness
and our hands inside leather gloves turned
to ashes, our lips and tongues to smoke.






I was carrying a draft of the poem in my pocket for at least a week, revising a couple of times a day. I thought the poem was finished until the night I was having dinner at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, a private club for magicians. Before going home I sat at the bar and the night’s performances worked their way into the poem.