‘Spirits’ by Johnny Horton

Johnny Horton

The Widow Lincoln communed with so many spirits
she had to be committed. To be haunted
is to be devoted. To paraphrase the secrets of the dead
you need a medium, a mirror in which you look

forward to appearances. Alcohol
comes from the Arabic word for “makeup.” Maybe
we have to change our looks
if we want communion. We have cocktails

because we can’t stop mixing. We love entertaining
possibilities. What we find intoxicating
we could fall for. What we fall for
makes us smart. Look at the German shepherd

barking at his reflection, the robin that sees in your pane
a blue sky for flying free. Socrates feared poetry
would make people think
their delusions could be true. Wile E. Coyote

shared his critical point-of-view
when he painted the mouth of a tunnel
he thought the Roadrunner could not run through. Maybe
we are innocent when we fall in love. We lose it

when we think we know what’s going on. Facades
are what we put up with
when we feel like hiding. The cover-up is how we live
with politicians. The unattractive Honest Abe

said he’d wear another face
if he had one. The vase our profiles make when we face off
must contain our thirst. We have to make out
if intoxication’s what we want.