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     “He Stumbled”
 
He stumbled through
love
always trying to
find
a sure footing
on a landscape
he just didn’t
understand
yesterday was
special
he was meeting
her
for the first
time
outside of class,
but when she
spoke
he couldn’t
hear
the changes
in her voice
that long hesitation
before her lips
said yes
the signs
her face was
showing him
with her eyes
darting around
as if looking
for help
as she forced
a straight smile
across her face
a look
that to most
would say
she meant
no
but all he saw
was her beauty
when he looked
at her
waiting on her
reply
and all he
heard
was a promise
when yes
finally did drop
from her mouth
he carried that
look
and that pledge
for hours
as he waited
outside the concert
for her to
show up,
yesterday
wasn’t that special
after all,
his heart was
still wobbling
around
when he saw
her
on Monday
him,
acting like
it was
no big deal
as she explained
that she was
sick
and should have
called
the girl sitting
between them
rolls her eyes
at the blaring
lie
but his wheels
are already
turning
planning another
date
that he doesn’t
know yet
is never going
to happen,
he learned nothing
in music 101
when it came
to reading women
the following week
he took his
poorly played game
to a bar
on main
a cute waitress
that always called
him
by name
taking time from
her rounds
to talk to him
about his day
he could sense
there was something
in her eyes
as she spoke
to him
her hand
touching his shoulder
at times
as she was
walking by
but he didn’t
understand
all the rules
of the game
the slight touch
her big smiles
and devilish
second glances
were just part
of the package
included in the
price of the
drink
plus tip
he was confident
in his approach
with her
only two drinks
into the night
when he asked
her
to a movie
his only hesitation
had been as to
what they would
see
he wanted to
ask her early
in the evening
leaving
plenty of time
to pick a movie
and a day
to which to
go on
but when he
received
only a
“You’re sweet”
“Would you like”
“Another round, hon?”
he shrank
into his seat
noticing
she dropped his
name
and replaced it
with a nonpersonal
tag
confused
in all directions
he told her
no
to the drink
she walked away
without a touch
he had made
no connection
that night,
shaken and stirred
he sat there
looking for an
avenue of escape
out of his
pain
and embarrassment
he finishes
his beer
walks off to
the bathroom
and just
stands there
trying to keep
his balance
as his world
starts spinning
around
he steadies
his heart
then pushes it
in front of
him
through the
bathroom door
in time to see
his waitress
clearing his table
replacing his empty
beer
with a fresh new
cocktail napkin
as if he was
never even there
he struggled with
accepting
he was just
an unpaid bill
called by name
he lowers his
head
and starts for
the exit
dragging his
wounded heart
out from under
an empty table
hiding in shame
from its lack
of knowledge
about these
things,
he makes his
way
outside
he decides to
skip the cab
and just walk
home
he has plenty
of time
he always has
plenty of time
all he ever does
with his time
is mark it,
the street lights
hung away
from the sidewalk
leaving his path
mostly in the dark
his heart
feeling right at
home
in that setting,
he looked up
at the moon
as he walked
along
but it wouldn’t
look back
totally ignoring
him
a feeling that is
getting
more and more
familiar to him,
he thinks about
a girl
he loved
when he was
16-years old
they fought
the lunch rush
together
fending off
the masses
with greasy food
and green
vanilla shakes
he was in
love
from the
very first day
to the very
last one,
that day
she kissed him
up against the
wall
in the drive-thru,
he stops in
mid-thought
doesn’t want
to go on
he’s afraid
he’ll reveal
a flaw
discover a
truth
and tear a
hole
in his memory
he looks down
at his heart
his heart
nodding it’s
in agreement
with the
cautionary move,
and as they
both
walk down
the darkened
path
in silence
a cloudless
sky
begins
to
rain…
 
     Tom Allen…10-17-2017…