Ambition by Gary Soto
For years our ambition was to eat
Chicken. To sit in the back yard,
In an aftershock of heat
When the sun was out of the way.
This happened. Drunk under a tree
We became sophisticates of the lawn chair
And beer bottles—trumpets we raised
All night under those bitter stars
That turned us to our lies
Of women, lost and found door to door.
“I was lonely once,” I told them
And they booed and flicked beer tops
At me—told me to get into
The kitchen for the hard stuff.
When I returned, Chris, the failed
Scholar of three degrees
Talked Italy. Flames broke
From the hibachi. The chicken
Grew noisy as a Latin mob.
“Quiet,” Jon yelled, and poked them
With a fork onto the platter.
We went inside to argue over salad
–a gaudy hat we stuffed into our mouths—
And let food climb our elbows.
Dogs snapped at bones, whined, jumped
When we threw them buttered rolls,
Corn, rings of potato. We ate
Like romans with good jobs
And returned to the back yard
To find that the moon had moved
Our chairs. Lost them in fact.
We dropped on the grass, on elbows.
The moon was clearing the trees
By two fingers. I took bets
We’d be happy. “No one ever knows,”
The scholar sighed, empty trumpet
In hand. I smiled. Jon smiled.
Cats with full lives grinned
From the back fence. Sniffed.
Dropped to the ground to nudge us for
The love of chicken but love all the same.
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