The Edge is where I want to be

by Lisa Martinovic

Fiddle accompaniment by Donna Henschell


so you just want to take the edge off
one beer
one joint
one teeny weeny Prozac

get rid of the edge?

people, the edge is what Columbus sailed straight into
it’s the launching pad for every space shuttle
the edge is Eve contemplating the apple

and what’s life without an edge?
that’s right,  it’s DULL
the edge is the cliff you’ve dangled from in a hundred nightmares
you never know what’s over that edge
and there’s only one way to find out

Brothers and sisters
where are we—
who are we—
if we take the edge off?

Lose the edge
and all you’ve got is middle
middle aged
middle class
middle of the road
middle management

you’re dribbling along in the uncooked vanilla pudding of life
all fat
no lean, hard edge to drive you
sharpen your skills
your wit
your senses

the edge holds the answer to your questions
the question to your answers
it’s the trailhead to the road not taken
the edge is everywhere
you’ve never dared to be

baby, if you’re not on the edge
you’re sleepwalking through been there done that
you’re stuck watching reruns of somebody else’s life
in the great mushy middle
where all the droning, moaning masses live
and eat and act and dress and think alike
and see the same movies
so they can have the same conversations and then
dream the same dreams
if they dream at all

on the edge you don’t know
what anybody is going to do or say or think
the edge is not available on your cell phone, iPod, satellite dish
or anywhere in the googleable universe
the edge does not twitter, it THUNDERS

and there are no disguises here
on the edge, everyone is naked
all bets are off
and the game’s not rigged
the air is clear and brisk
your heart’s pounding
you’re shaking
you’re lightheaded and queasy
you’re scared
because everything is initiation
on that sharp unforgiving edge

damn right it’s uncomfortable
the edge is change
it’s what you don’t  see  coming
so get out of your comfort zone and deal with it

sure, the middle’s safe
it’s safe like hot cocoa, life jackets and training wheels
if that’s how you want to live
if you don’t ever want to break the rules
take risks
grow up
past your precious fears and life-strangling limitations

if you want to spend your life
drinking lite beer
smoking  another joint
eating what’s put in front of you
and home entertaining yourself
till you suffocate
on the vacuous paucity of your miserably crippled existence

then go ahead—have a virtual life

but if you’re tired and weary and battered
if you can’t take one more asshole
riding herd on your wild and precious life
if you’re mad or sad or bored enough
to wake up and do something
if you’re ready to feel the pain of the great
gaping wound your life has become
then goddamn it, friend!

quit your job
quit smoking
quit whining
leave that jerk
write that poem
go dancing
get sober
take a road trip—a dare—a spin—a lover—a chance
honey, break down and cry if that’s what it takes
then pick your ass up
and for all you’re worth run
don’t walk
to the edge


© Lisa Martinovic


* acknowledgements to the brilliant poet Mary Oliver for “wild and precious life”