I’m going to start
wearing a money
belt to pretend
in a foreign
country. Wide enough
and a spleen
in case mine needs
to be removed.
I would keep it
so I could still vent.
No one will accuse me
of being passive
aggressive. Where am I
Saint Paul. You never know.
Will have to cross
the Mississippi, you know.
Maybe, you don’t.
Yesterday. An unmarked package
delivered on an unmarked
morning. But she knows. Has been expecting
you to return
for a new verse, extended play. Gone
from gonna to did
back again. No more bye-bye. What’s it
like? Who really wants to know?
speakers and receiver and
tuner and equalizer and memory
of how I would buy
and pay anything
to get closer
to that bastard
with the voice. To replace
it all now
terrifies me. The sound
is lonely and loud—
the young turned
fifty years ago.
The first time I could have thought
I’d died and gone to heaven, I didn’t.
Only years later would I see
how one night of live music inside Toad’s
Place would be all I ever needed—
one almost lethal obsession kicking
in, another stubbornly tame one sparked
and filed away in a Midwestern vault
for safe keeping. Do not remove for more
than a decade (and a half). The first time
I did think I’d died and gone
there, I took a wrong turn
onto a riverboat and got trapped tracing
a wake aft. To cross it without spilling
into myself has become a new preoccupation
about to break the surface. Ready
as I’ll never be and all other stolen
turns of phrase twisted inside out.
How many walls will she paint orange
before the urge to find replacements
dissolves in spirit
of turpentine? It is a question she doesn’t need
to answer till other colors haunt
her, flash inside her eyelids
in jealous rages, till another violent act
unfolds flat against this bare surface.
It’s happening again—distortion
in the sky. Not another season
in sight. The man in a neon vest drops
his shovel. A bus rolls up—
wheels on a new white blanket.
Won’t last. Disintegration
at ground level. I watch from my skyway
perch—it is warm up
inside. Which one in stupid hat and gloves
is you? I gave up the search
decades ago. Now I extinguish the light.