MY FRIEND BRET JOHNSTON

BARRETT WARNER

My Friend Bret Johnston has so many answers
to questions I don’t know how to ask.

We’re outside St. John’s. The sidewalk, so restless here.
It dog-legs to a landing, and continues
to a bending asphalt wave—Kelly Avenue.

The ramps, My God, the ramps—Bret is talking about skateboarding.

The ramps and bowls you can do when you’re dead.
You just got to be able to handle the drop in.

Bret goes to an empty pool in Hampden.

Half the time he thinks he can make the drop—a good eight-foot drop.
Sometimes it scares him so he sits and watches 20 year-olds—babies really.

He doesn’t feel old or angry like I would. He just feels amazed.

Something about being around beauty you can’t experience first-hand.
The way it Jakes you into believing in something anyway.

The secret to immortality is knowing how to get over yourself.

The sore knees, the jasper lump in my chest. I’m dying.

“Look at the scratch on this railing.” Bret moves his finger along its ridge.

“Someone on a skateboard did this. Someone made the turn,
went down and down, flattened, went down again, and hit the street right here.
The landing, oh fucking tough, but man, that scratch goes on forever.”

Some time passes to let forever settle before he learns I’m a gambler.
“Did you watch the Belmont?” he says, adding, “I saw it with my mom.”

I open and shut my phone. In the end I decide not to call my dad.
The drop scares me too. Unlike Bret, it scares me every time.

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