the smaller man is always alcoholic, beaten
by the deafness of the world as much as by
his own woes, sewn like grapes onto his sleeves.
Of the far and dark periphery, though,
the greater man is always manic, taking
a stance when you would never want to,
taking with deep thick gulps the rich tobacco
smoke. Once, when he was young, he saw
his father beat a dog and heard his older
brother talk about the edge of the woods
where when you were older you’d go
to burn a different kind of fire, the kind
that left you and your friends scorched
the next day and the next.