Pounding On the Bottom of a Popcorn Can with a Drumstick, A Poem by Chris Russell

There’s a picture I have when I was a baby

and I’m sucking my thumb while

I’m about to pound on the bottom of a popcorn can

with a drumstick,

and sometimes I wonder if I knew then

I’d have to come up with musical ways

of expressing myself in order to feel transported.

Staring at the bottom of a can

I learned to disassociate so well,

I could turn the air to water in a breath,

and slow my processing down 

with fantasies that made pain

just another age to scratch back from.

As a teen I watched my father fall

into the quicksand of alcoholism

and the idea I had to find some of the real stuff,

dive in with a camera and a scuba tank,

and swim into an underground city

became a slivered reminder

of disappointment and heartbreak,

though that didn’t stop me

from sitting in the woods

until I started seeing hairy-faced beings

peeking at me from behind

their own way of asking me

to follow them back into a cave painting

and grab some berries on the way.

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