Waiting behind the rail’s safety, the crowd
nibbles curiously with boasting breath.

They have come prepared for the volcano, burst
or bust. Its open mouth will foam at the lip

or fail to delight and remain jutting earth,
bruised earth, such sacred excitement.

Vicarious: broken up into its fragments, the thought
a sound of contradictions, vie, care, us, almost

violence. Living through others means always
starting at the mountaintop and coaxing forth

its hot-blooded essence. Faith that it goes to plan,
begging for a performance worth applauding

pleasure in their little souvenirs, bragworthy
totems, a photo, a shard, air-dried tears.

While the spout yawns and quivers back to silence
spent from its furious trial, while they offer

postcards and mementos as proof that scratching
at the ground, it too can be ripped apart

for entertainment, the watchers all depart to spend
their joy, this secondhand delight until tomorrow.

Then others return to fill spaces and play parts
requiring promises and threats alike, a new chance

to boast the mountain into action.
Even the wind, between breaths, is gloating.

(November/December 2016)