How to Pick a Padlock

by Patrick Wilcox

               Ask a lesser thief and they would say
to use two bent-up bobby pins. My therapist says
              tell me more. A lesser thief would say to turn and jab,
twist and juke. Thieves can’t pry our way
              into paradise. My therapist says you need
a psychiatrist. A padlock needs a can of Coke. Cut the can
              into m-shaped strips. Tourniquet the strips half-moon
around the shackle. My psychiatrist says take
              this pill. Imagine the shackle is the last person
you were in love with and the strip a grittier version
              of you who learned years ago love-logic only exists
between lock pin and lock key. My pill says
              if you are latched long enough you will suffocate. Feel
the release of shackle heel breaking grip, shackle toe
              out of place, air into lung. My deadlatch says
don’t leave me. Please, don’t leave me. Remember,
              keep the padlock in a back pocket. Remember,
its heft is your last good anchor. Only then do you stand
              a chance of waking in a familiar room, in a bed
that’s more like a home. My home says you should
              leave me. Pick the lock loose and latch it back,
curious to whose heart we both are breaking in.

Patrick Wilcox studied English and Creative writing at the University of Central Missouri where he also was an Assistant Editor for Pleiades. His chapbook Acta is forthcoming from Cathexis Northwest Press. His work has appeared in Maudlin House, MacGuffin, and West Trade Review, among others.