We Did

Corbin Louis


and we were the first to shoot the clock

no doubt    it was us    13-yr-olds sitting

stone cold on the guardrails


i saw an opportunity    to sneak out

and toy with the gods    some fortune

faded    the whole circus was lit up

and danny boy knew a thing or two

about stealing cars and showing off

his mom’s crack pipe


what a house party    that left so many

throats stripped bare    all about    just

cans on cans    and the strongest of us

on both feet    with the last drop

poured onto morning    a pirate’s life


no one knew which way the train

was coming    but we knew it was coming

all those tracks lined with pennies and

lighters    the flash    of butane bright red

like a marigold smashed into planets


and even though the wasteland

even though the deadline    missed

and even though    the odds were rain


on those nights    we screamed    such

black eyes punched out walls the size of

katherine’s worst day    so massive   

in a petri dish of red bulls and nicotine


my god    what an inhale

perhaps best describes as

nitrous mouth    or twenty cans

of aerosol    that each one

would breach the education

and leave us soft as a baby skull


in a pile of slush    thirty days spent

melting on the driveway    but someone

always called a rally    to the back lot

to the mall    into bonfires    a stack

of boxes burned by the coming

of our last ditch


however tired    those gatherings

documented only by chipped paint

danny had a bone to pick and the room

ended up being a wishbone    but mike

broke up the whole thing    and just

laughter in the fields    just a bell


yet a dozen more times

charcoals burned    i made excuses

like clockwork and forgot the loose

ends of a lie about taking it all


of poison    of cheers    of dying

no matter the time or backstreet

we had to get there    to a basement

or a front yard    especially on friday


we had to arrive    at some point

just to pull off our jaws and taste

the laughing gas    just to break

into the storefront of a good time

and we did

no doubt     just about all of it

including the long night

or a noise complaint

and the coyote on fire

including the sky sliced in two

the dreadnaught of noon

yeah    we did



A recent Jack Straw Writer’s Resident and MFA graduate at the University of Washington, Corbin Louis is a Seattle native making work out of a legacy of grunge and rain and illness. Each piece serves as a form of sublimation, transforming dysfunction into arrangements of self-reflection and cultural critique. Corbin’s goal as an artist is to garner awareness and support around mental illness by creating pieces that shriek for understanding, and he has been published by Best American Experimental Writing, Random Sample Review, Visible Poetry Project and others.