ROLES OF PROVOCATION – R.T. Castleberry

ROLES OF PROVOCATION

Winded,
I can barely raise my head.
Grieving strains like gravity.
I lean on my desk,
keys twirling on one finger,
slapping into my palm.
The outer window previews
carnival propulsion,
the integrity of the Ferris Wheel
distinct through a desert sky.
Samaritans at a safe distance
place 911 calls and side bets.
A sniper engaged in his mystery
fires the higher floors,
dictates release terms,
roles of provocation.
I’ll explain three times, he says.
The fourth is a last clue.
A sanctioned celebration rackets seamless—
fireworks and lasers,
Otis Redding and Roadhouse Blues.
Floodlights shill hotel flags.
Drinkers flood the inside bars,
dance patios left to triage.
I’ll take away
the ash of this evening
through checkout, through a taxi ride,
through an airline chat:
I missed it at dinner across town.
Yes, it was close. I was lucky.

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