Also the title of a poem that I wrote my junior year of high school, during one of the toughest weeks of Advanced Placement Biology. We had had to memorize the name and order of nearly every intermediate in the processes of photosynthesis and respiration, and had a test on respiration that was to include 2 AP essays and many multiple-choice questions in a single 85-minute class. I threw up on the school bus coming in, and nearly begged the nurse to let me stay for the test. A few days later, I wrote this.

Another quick note - the "mini-golf machine" refers to a little gambling machine at the miniature golf place in my hometown. Essentially, the player drops a token into the machine, which has a pusher bar moving quickly in and out. Ideally, the token will hit the token-covered metal surface while the pusher bar is withdrawn, so that, when it comes out again, the entire layer of tokens is pushed off the edge of the surface to be claimed by the player.

I would suggest reading the poem in the same manner as I recite it, in a fairly rapid monotone.

The Edge

Living on the edge, ever closer to the edge,
Like the tokens balanced in the mini-golf machine.
Living on the edge, ever closer to the edge,
Someday to fall over, never to be seen.

Some are lured to the edge, ever closer to the edge.
Someone waves a raise, a job, an opportunity.
But it's only near the edge, right by the edge,
Like a butterfly soaring just out of reach.
Almost there! You're the best yet!
All you need is just one tiny step to get
Nearer to the edge, ever closer to the edge
Just give a little - more - a lot.

An hour a day, another, three
Oh so easy it can be -
Just take one step
Nearer to the edge, ever closer to the edge,
The place of success - of impossible dreams.

Some reach for the edge alone, trying to reap
What they find there to take and to keep.
A raise, a promotion, a trophy, a degree.
Something to hold or something to be.
A score, a date, a waistline -
Just give up vacation, forget the beach
(There's a different edge for each.)
Perfect accent, perfect skin
The edge lures and lures again.
Extra credit, extra pain
But what a gain, oh what a gain!
It doesn't show, they'd never know
That's the way school runs, you know

But the edge is for the edge
And only for the edge.
Living, trying, screaming, crying for the edge
And dying for the edge
When the edge is out of reach.

Many give all to
Be the best at one little thing.
A tiny black letter shines brighter
Than the sun can gleam.
Draw a line down the middle of your grades,
At last - perfection - both sides the same.
But are you still sane?
Are you truly sane?

Or are you
Living on the edge, ever closer to the edge,
Towards the tantalizing coins in the mini-golf machine.
Just more on the pile to win everything.
One more little sacrifice, one little step

Closer to the edge, ever closer to the edge, one step -
Don't take it and
You'll never know how amazing you could be.
The rocks of the mesa creek and crumble,
But whatever can that mean?
Success is all and everything.
Just take one step
Nearer to the edge, ever closer to the edge, where
Perfection is a possibility.

It's lonely near the edge, oh so lonely near the edge
But the view is great.

Some return to the plateau -
Running further from the edge, screaming, shying from the edge
Never to know what they might have been.
They won't be anything, but at least they will be.
They will never fall over, never to be seen.
They come, see, and back away.
They won't win one token, but that's okay.

There are other edges, for those who
Are too weak - not too strong
It's cozy on the edge, oh so cozy on the edge.
A stolen car, a cheated company or a chemical dream.
All that's needed is a little step
Nearer to the edge, ever nearer to the edge,
Push others over, but you're closer to the dream.
When a dream is all, the dream is naught,
And it's life that is the dream.