Anthony Madrid



Brake light out; kid with a stick.
I’m running laps on the lip of a funnel.
Inbound Stevenson, north to Chicago.

Brake light out; kid singing along.
In a turn-only lane, you don’t have to signal.
Being in the lane is the signal.

Brake light out; kid petting the cat.
Problems come up and are handled badly
’cuz people are afraid to accelerate.

Brake light out; kid crying in a rage.
Ten-ton truck making its way up a hill.
MEMORY is the better poet.

Brake light out; kid in a stroller.
Don’t use the car to make a point.
Only divest; no need to announce it.

Brake light out; kid in a sandbox.
Hateful, the sound of recriminations.
Decorum is spontaneous order.

Brake light out; kid in a tree.
Take your foot off the gas, let your speed decay.
Look at me, child. I am happy.

Brake light out; kid playing on the steps.
Let’s compare morals; let’s exchange lists.
I am thirsty to know your mind.

Brake light out; kid swimming in circles.
Turn and cross traffic; snap shut the book.
BORN TO LOSE is no small category.

Brake light out; kid watching TV.
Cruise control is a driver’s good ghost.
Most people are only their résumés.

Brake light out; kid crying in a rage.
Ten-ton truck making its way up a hill.
Here’s your chance to go over a lane.

Brake light out; kid looping a chain.
Nothing gonna happen; follow close through the turn.
You cannot choose to believe.

Brake light out; kid on a sled.
Bad’s not the devil; bad can be good.
If nobody’s looking? Go fifty.

Brake light out; kid learning the trick.
People pretend they don’t understand.
Pull out slow. Until you can see.

Brake light out; kid setting a trap.
Stale green light: you might have to step on it.
Personally, my plan is to be lucky.

Brake light out; kid trying too hard.
Why is everyone abandoning this lane?
Roosevelt, you’re not ready.

Brake light out; kid smearing acrylic.
Ring glides gracefully over the knuckle.
Hard to get it back off.

Brake light out; kid crying in a rage.
Ten-ton truck making its way up a hill.
There is no such thing as false witness.

Brake light out; kid turned on by a doll.
Serpentine belt blew, melted the motor.
The speed limit is not the speed limit.

Brake light out; kid put to bed.
Steering wheel’s locked; rock the car back and forth.
It doesn’t matter what happens to me.

Brake light out; kid lying awake.
Full tank of gas, toddler strapped in.
Whoever gives good advice sees the future.


ANTHONY MADRID lives in Chicago. His poems have recently appeared in AGNI Online, Boston Review, Fence, Gulf Coast, Iowa Review, Lana Turner, LIT, Poetry, Washington Square, and WEB CONJUNCTIONS. His first book is called I AM YOUR SLAVE NOW DO WHAT I SAY (Canarium Books, 2012).


Read more by Anthony Madrid:

Ten blog posts at The Poetry Foundation
Three poems in Pinwheel
VIDEO of Anthony Madrid reading “BALLAD”
One more poem by Anthony Madrid in B O D Y