by Quentin Kerr

“You can write whatever you want,” he said –
“As long as you write the truth.”

But what if I write about dragons?
Can I still write the truth
If I write about dragons?

“Of course,” he said. “Of course.”

“You can still write about the woman who
ran down North Street,
High heels clutched in her left hand,
The slap of her bare feet against the pavement
A lonely drumbeat in the
autumn morning,
the smallest moustache of sweat
Clinging to her upper lip.”

“‘The dragons are coming,’ she’ll say to you,
So of course,
Jot that down –
And maybe
In her salt-stained eyes you’ll see fire,
Swimming in the serpentine and silky oil of her iris
Just before she faints.”

“So write that down, too.”

“And of course, you can write
About the way the lazy winter light
Still catches
Those distant arching wings,
As the sun goes down over this weary Appalachia,
Stretching long purple shadows across stubbled fields.”

“And sure,
Write about old man George, too
Who stands near
The memorial in Churchill Park,
Feeds the pigeons –
Bring a tape recorder,
And for a few fast beers
He’ll show you the dragon tooth
That hangs From a long black chain
Around his neck,
And tell you why
He don’t walk so good,
No more.”

“He tends to ramble, of course –
But by all means,
Write it down.”

“But please,” he said. “Please.”

“Don’t forget that all that is alive
Must consume.
And all that is consumed,
Must be expunged.”

“So don’t forget the boy
Who sleeps in some wrinkled tower
In the suburbs of Camelot,
Who takes the Go-Train
Each morning, to the royal zoo
And gets paid three coppers an hour
To shovel dragon shit.”

“And don’t forget that in the early morning air
This boy
Feels himself grow colder,
His fingers paper thin,
And nearly useless; His hair
Turns grey overnight and
He cannot remember where he came from,
Or what, exactly, he is doing here.”

“And one day,
After the gates have closed,
He will put aside his shovel, and walk,
Unafraid, into the dragon’s den;
Here, I hope, he will find rest.”

“So yes,” he said, “of course.”
“Of course you can write about dragons.”

— from Juniper Volume 3, Issue 1