One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
I danced for decades with lies,
led across a scuffed-up floor
leaning on an unfaithful shoulder.
Those lips so lush with promise?
I tasted their sophisticated fictions,
perjured myself by believing
their candied catchphrases,
allowed my feet to be carried
across dancehalls and ballrooms
into spaces I knew better to enter,
as if I’d lost
the capacity to walk away.
A thirsty dog will gulp down
tainted water—and I drank
of the cloying poisons with relish.
Those hands so duplicitous,
one encasing mine like a lock box,
the other driving the small
of my back like a spike.
I told myself I had no choice,
conditioned as a prisoner
toward a cell I myself constructed
and latched shut. Why did I feel
the need to swallow the only key?
These bare feet have followed
the pulsing of those lips,
the cadence of those hands,
the rhythms of seduction and sedation.
I alone have worn this bittersweet path
through the grains beneath my feet,
every sliver earned, owned, deserved.
Scott Wiggerman (he/his) is the gay author of three books of poetry, Leaf and Beak: Sonnets, Presence, and Vegetables and Other Relationships; and the editor of several volumes, including Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, Bearing the Mask, and 22 Poems & a Prayer for El Paso. Poems have appeared recently in Gyroscope Review, Mollyhouse, Unlost, Shot Glass Journal, Red Earth Review, Rogue Agent, and Impossible Archetype.