Wil Gibson

Life Lesson 1280 or “The Five Things I Learned in an Oklahoma Bar Fight on my 22nd Birthday”

When the glass breaks over your head,
notice the flash of white that takes over the whole world.
The blood will seem like an afterthought,
the afterbirth to your newborn concussion.
Stand up, leave the bar in a bolt of confusion while
the other patrons turn spirits into ghosts.

Never be anywhere with so much hate.

When you get outside, light a KOOL, and smile.
Do not get angry when the tears streak down your face,
curl off your top lip, and snuff out the cigarette mid drag.
When you wipe the tears away and realize it is blood,
thank the cigarette for the warning and the cancer, throw it on the ground.

Never smoke anything laced in blood.

When you notice the police officer
noticing you fall towards your truck,
show him your keys, unlock the door,
show him your keys again, throw the keys
to the other side of the parking lot,
climb into the cab of your truck,
wave to the police officer,
lock the door,
lay down and sleep until sunrise.
When the sunrise does not provide you with sobriety,
go back to sleep.
Sleep until noon.

Never drive while you are bleeding.

When noon re-wakes you and you notice you are still bleeding,
mumble in a way that scares the birds while you look for your keys.
When you find them, smile for the little victory.
Stumble to the hospital, while pedestrians only
gasp at the sight of you, and do nothing to help.

Never go to the hospital unless you have to stumble to get there.

If the woman behind the emergency room desk
does not seem to care about your bleeding head,
or your broken heart,
withhold your disappointment.
Do not blame her,
simply pass out in a sweaty, bloody heap of self-righteousness.
That will show her.

When you wake up alone in a hospital bed,
examine the scenarios that could have
led you to a less stressful evening.

Always rethink your life when you wake up alone in a hospital bed.


Wil Gibson currently lives in Humboldt County, California where the trees are big. He has had 5 collections published by kind people, and has been included in a number of anthologies and lit mags both online and in print, such as Marsh Hawk Review, Button Poetry, Midwestern Gothic, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Yellow Chair Review and more. You can find links to books and more info at wilgibson.com.