The first time I crossed the bridge,
I was only 6 or so years old.
It was around the time
I had begun to use two hands
when I said “this many”
to describe my age.
Stepping up to the mossy catwalk
over troubled water,
my knees were shaking so wildly
that I sounded like a skeleton
dancing the Macarena
to his own chattering soundtrack.
I had come to terms with the black hole
under my bed, where many a power ranger
or tomagachi would meet its’ untimely end,
but this was the big leagues.
The Olympics of scary.
To a kid’s eyes,
the bridge was a mile long
with trolls hiding underneath
like the gatekeepers to an
exclusive monster nightclub
catering to supernatural celebrities
who would only allow
teenage demons with fake IDs inside
if they brought a bribe of childhood body-parts
like ears or baby teeth.
And I liked my ears,
they helped me look normal.
Otherwise, I’d just be raccoon eyes
without the heightened auditory senses.
Plus the tooth fairy would be mighty pissed
if she missed my last two little molars-
not to mention the 50 cents the
monsters would owe me.
Even though I went through a
“James and the Giant Peach”
phase since growing older,
spurting up like a tree on Miracle Grow
or some other back-alley plant steroid,
when I was just a boy
I was the smallest billy goat,
with only enough meat on my bones
to feed an ogre with an eating disorder.
Looking at that bridge that for some reason
I decided needed crossing to the other side
like the oldest joke in the book,
I didn’t think I would make it to see next week
much less thirteen.
You know, because everyone knows
How trolls are fans of rotating sushi bars
and I would be the wasabi for their seaweed
or even worse,
the ginger between their teeth
when they needed a palate cleanser
to clean out that fishy smell.
Overactive imagination aside,
The next time I braved the bridge
I was terrified that it would crumble
under all the weight I’d gained.
I was afraid the bricks would break
since they were not triangle shaped,
which I learned during summer camp-
fine, nerd camp-
was the strongest way to make a gangplank.
Besides, there were pirates
this time around,
hiding inside the arch
where there should have been triangles
dying to help passerby meet a soily end.
Yes, I had a pirate phase,
and they were angry.
Out of work since the Caribbean
refused their last movie script
and pissed at all the amputations
they gave themselves trying to be celebrities,
they were aching to take their revenge
on the next teenager with a full set of legs
who stepped onto that shipwreck of a bridge.
If the captain hadn’t turned to religion
to make up for his sins against the continental,
my nickname would have hence
It is not over-
every story worth its salt
or genie worth his lamp
or joke worth its punch line
follows the rule of three;
I need to meet the bridge a third time.
The crossing welcomes me like another stone
but I cannot see the mortar reaching out;
my foggy glasses are so afraid they peed themselves.
But maybe it’s just that time of the day
when the air becomes very “Werewolf in London”
and steam creeps up from the ground
like the earth has just taken up smoking
and coughs on strangers because
it doesn’t know how to breathe
the second-hand sauna
like James Dean or a Camel.
I sit on the cobbled walls
and wait for the world to crumble around me.