Fighting The Laughter

Fighting the Laughter
I have a mischievous bug,
a skinny Black House spider that dwells in my head,
snickering,
playing with the wires in my brain
and when I’m sitting in my car at a red light
and I see a pedal bike
growing larger in my rear view mirror
squeezing between idling cars and exhaust,
he times the moment the biker’s going to wheel by.
My eyes dart to the mirrors and back ahead.
My fingers tap briefly on the wheel
as the biker is ticking louder,
passing my left side blinker,
ntering my blind spot
and the black widow clenches my shoulder
and whispers sharply in my ear, “Now”
and I want to see if he’s timed it out right
and without looking
flash open the driver’s door
but instead my fists tighten around the steering wheel,
I straighten my arms,
pressing my back into the seat,
I bite my lip and smirk to myself,
imagining the spandex somersaulting over the top of the cars.
The spider says nothing.
He just turns around
and slides away
But I think of all the times when the little spider and I used to get along.
In seventh grade geology class,
sitting in the front row of the small and silent room,
only a few sentences into the lecture,
Little Blackie pulled my eyes half way shut
and made me suck in a drawn out fake snoring noise
so loud it made my throat raw.
The teachers face filled with blood.
The little bug’s eyes grew wild
and he howled.
When I was two my mom would take me to the grocery store
and sit me on top of the shopping cart.
As she pulled the twitching wheels down the isles
I would stick out my plumb little arms
and right when she wasn’t looking
drag my hands stiffly into the shelves
knocking down the cans, jars and boxes,
Little Blackie laughing contagiously,
walking over the glass chards and apple sauce,
waiting for blood.
My grandmother, with her white hair,
her light bulb head,
she used to call me a devil child,
adoringly.
My mom would smack my hands quick,
her voice scolding
but her mouth and eyes were fighting back the laughter.
My father always fed me well.
My older brother melted when I looked up at him
and sprayed Spic and Span in his face
and his voice cracked when he hollered my name
as I chased him weaving through furniture
with a 12 inch kitchen knife,
Blackie almost getting a taste of what he wanted.
In those days he was a well oiled wheel,
spinning violently with laughter,
clapping,
crying,
out of breath,
one eye larger than the other
drinking, never drifting,
applauding.

And there’s a stillness that grips me now
because I’m aware of what he might do.
I’ve learned to own the sneaky little bastard
who never put the wires back quite right,
who trapped my mind and poisoned it,
who left his ruined webs in the attic of my head.
When I’m talking to strangers
or someone’s back is turned
or when the pub crawlers are getting drunk,
there’s a stillness that lives in me
because Blackie’s eyes are still grinning
inside his amber cell.