There are three cans of paint:

one is pain
one is fear
one is anger.

For years, I’ve tried to mute these colors
or hide them in the basement of my soul,
willing spiders spin a shroud around them—
and yet, the three cans still remain.

I was buying a bottle of whiskey
at Harvest Spirits on 30th and Arapahoe
and I see this German Shepherd puppy
who is a service dog in training.
She looks up at me from her place in line
and then eyes the basket of small bottles
of Bacardi Rum. She takes one in her mouth
and shakes it around like a chew toy.
The store clerk is afraid she’ll get drunk.
Her owner says she’ll pay for it if the teeth
puncture the plastic. The owner returns the
bottle, intact, but covered in slobber.
“What’s her name?” I ask.
“Hilde. Short for Broomhilde.”
“Cute,” I reply, searching for my phone,
which is in my car. Broomhilde leaves.
I buy my whiskey, which is called Larceny.

I would rather write about
the service puppy
and how she almost
drank a shot of
Bacardi Rum
than force myself
to write
about the cans of paint
stored in the
basement of my soul.

Their excavation is inevitable
and the paint fumes seep up
into my psyche on occasion.

If I’m feeling strong enough,
I’ll take a sniff.