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The Six Million Dollar Poem

We could have spent all day
on that esplanade watching citizens
set fire to our favorite bridge,
but we needed to master
our summer looks,
and how many landmarks
must be destroyed
before our thirst for belligerent
celebration is quelled?
Don’t get me wrong,
it was awesome—
people were always making love
in front of them anyway—
but there were Frisbees to be hurled,
skateboards to be twisty-fakied,
barbeques to attend,
competitive eating contests
to dominate, not to mention
lively games of cornhole,
children alight in bouncy castles,
chitter-chatter about baseball,
motorcycles to be O-ed
in Hooters parking lots
and helicopters to whisper
quietly across the horizon.
Later that afternoon, Kevin
launched his own sun
into the sky. Living under it
was great, but don’t get me started:
I had a long list of complaints
for that fucker, the first of which
concerned his 40,000 birds
waking me up
with their infernal chirping.
I will admit, though,
it really did have a certain way
of lighting your path
as you passed through
the hometown of Lee Majors
and saw that chili-cheese
advertisement you’ll never forget.



Two days ago Mom threatened
to randomly kill one person
every hour until I cleaned my room.
I went for a walk.
I was happy to be outside
but unhappy someone might die.
Was this really happening?
I drew a pretty good
caricature of a pigeon
and gave it to a magician
who was feeding it.
He handcuffed me
and placed me inside a box.
When he opened it,
I was gone. What was once
a dream come true
had become a total embarrassment.
Do you want to live dangerously?
Try wrapping yourself
in newspaper and sleeping
on a bed of grenades
next to a can of gasoline.
It’s hard not to fall in love
while wearing prescription pants.
When I climb into a sphere of light,
it explodes. This is why yellow
is the greatest color.


Jason Bredle lives in Chicago. A recipient of a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, his fourth book, Carnival, was selected as an Editor’s Choice for the Akron Series in Poetry and published in September 2012 by the University of Akron Press.