Joseph Cervelin

Missile Tag

Sodas and jello make
little girls, tiny boys,
sparkling hermaphrodites,
a slide-show of smiles at
the intersection, filing into
the theater, bright eyes,
whistling behind ears, pretending
it’s a prison tunnel, skipping,
scraping knees, holding hands
snug, not even one
cloud over this crowd —
clear as the M-I-S-S...I...
only evenly broken chocolate
bars, caramel threads
holding heads up high

Carbonated tabs snapping
like fingers, shoulders, jello
wobbling in place, one boy squeaks
Fruit Eyeballs! swirling
in genius, sun extracting
juice from the scalp, dropping
plops on his stub ticket,
breeze pushing, it’d kick it
down the concrete if it could,
swerving gum speedbumps,
spat or smacked
from lips frozen in bruise,
hardened on the street,
photons pricking — and then lightning
at the stroke of noon

When the missile tags
everyone is It! This is TV
Tag, Freeze, Manhunt,
blowing the brightest
bubble on the planet, pink, yellow,
fingers reflecting fizzled, twisted-off
soda pop, collapsing in machines —
the orchestra, digital in the lobby,
matinee freebie, squealing a final note —
stalemates of chewing gum in cheeks,
hair, between elbows, smeared into
gravel, lemonade stands, lip sweat,
bricks topping melted ice cream
like cherries, sweet and sour
saliva, stirring a gigantic
jawbreaker melting pot
for sucking, scratching
the layers, flavors tangled,
smooth under the fingers
of our spotlights, coarse when drawn
to scale, laser details, spun cubist,
the theater floor swept clean
for the first time we recall,
returned to the children
wearing gummi worms
and fish, boiling butter

Everyone’s out of their seats,
whirling a tornado of cocoa eggs
while we gaze, crouching,
moved by these earthlings,
their thunderous ovation,
flames flashing as trophies,
opening the intersection
into an envelope, licking lips, flesh confetti,
drum rolling, dancing bones,
coming soon