Self-Determination
by Alan Birkelbach



This morning I think I will choose creamer in my coffee
As opposed to jumping my fence and crossing the border
into the Horrible Land of Prickle Wigglies.

If only all mornings had choices this simple.

There was yesterday. It was also easy.
I was driving.
I had to choose between turning left into the tacqueria
or right into the Pass of the Zombie Kings.

But last week, at a soiree,
I had to choose between cucumber sandwiches
or confronting a fearsomely attractive and well-armed cadre
of Amazonian women.
I debated that one.

A person shouldn’t have to anguish over
each and every second.
This minute, that moment, this route, that route,
little swallow, big swallow, one pill, two pills.
Even that first ambitious lungfish had to primally chose
between swimming away
or painfully walking, however briefly, up a dry slope.

It can feel benign at the time:
Choosing between Lou Ann Smurnick
or Debbie Zombalo to the take to the prom.
But there are always ripples
and you can’t always see downstream.

Like Archimedes who could have left
his unfinished design in the dust
but instead chose to ask the Roman soldier
to kindly step out of the light.





Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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