Don’t push it or press it,
my parents warned,
as if it were some button
that would open a trap door,
drop me down into the abyss.

No, better to be boring,
but safe. Remain in its good
graces. Don’t take more
than you need, try too hard,
overextend your reach.

Never brag when you have it,
whine when you don’t.
Better to choose a few stars
from an August sky and thank
them, or pick up that penny

from the pavement—heads up
to give you good fortune—
and stick it in your pocket
for a rainy day that may
never come. Most of all,

never screw with it,
jinx it, piss it away, dare it
to leave. But now when
I think on all those things
I have lost; land, lives,

luck, love, always
with shoulder to wheel,
nose to stone, head above
water, perhaps it is fate
that should not tempt me,

as my odds grow longer
like these winter shadows
that fill these stubbled fields
once full but now fallow,
day after shortened day.

Richard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio now residing in California. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Canada, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Two of his poems recently appeared in Ten Years of Dos Madres Press.