The same damn word that rhymes with got no rhythm but not with not to blame That spells embarrassed for some parlor game but can’t recall how many r’s there are The word that synthesizes every sin in whiskey on the rocks but makes it double That fills whole Hawthorne novels never read but bluffed and called in conversation Defines the introvert who wants to ghost from small talk but whose lurch says ghoul
Yet spoken upside-down and backward casts a cantrip that can turn left right Becomes an anagram for hit the shot and blindfolded through pinhole hoops of flame An artifice that builds a shield from a bullet and befriends the gun that sent it A code to tell pit traps from treasures on unlettered maps and to unlock the crypt The single word that means a flock of blackbirds and the means to sing their flight
Yet still this answer for the stolen riddle story ends in silence, awkward silence Shorthand for wired-reflex card-mechanic prestidigitation bested by stick-finger irony A foolproof mnemonic hook for your true name but mispronounced again you fool, you fool
-- Steven Schroeder’s first book is Torched Verse Ends, and his second manuscript has been a National Poetry Series and Four Way Books Levis Prize finalist. Steven’s poetry is forthcoming or available from New England Review, Barn Owl Review, South Dakota Review, Drunken Boat and InDigest. He edits the online poetry journal Anti— and works as a Certified Professional Resume Writer.