Survivor's Guilt and Table Scraps

An Irishman belts through my speakers
about his recollections from a gorgeous day
reminding me of a time
when that hit was most ironic.
My brothers and I were coming in hot
from a shift down in the Bronx.
Clouds peppered what was left
of the sky's visible pink hue
as we traversed the Cold Spring flats on 9D
along a white-capped Hudson.
Tornadoes were touching down in the valley
their wakes leaving trees in the roadway.
I'd poked fun at the bad luck
that the driver's car held in its core
when we got a flat tire in the City once
but nothing had compared to this.

The song played out on the radio
as Johnny weaved through branches
across the double-yellow.
I laid low in the back seat
in case the forest came crashing
thinking of how I'd eulogize the two men
in the front of the vehicle
at the next Union meeting
since I was still immortal then.
We entered a tunnel that cuts through
Storm King Mountain and Johnny
expressed his desire to stay there.
"We can't," was the consensus
though neither of his passengers
mouthed the words aloud.
The line of cars behind us
deserved fair shakes
at their own battles with God.

I'm living proof of that day's victory.
Johnny and I went to the gin mill
upon arrival at our rendezvous point
near my apartment
to celebrate our prolonged lives
wrenches and taxes be damned
while our third high-tailed home
grateful to have made it
without the need for drink.

Five years under a spreading belt
and I feel low-pressure systems
as they draw nigh in my ankles.
En route to mine mountains
for a better way of life
than what this thick skull's tried
a song that's won Grammies
reminds me to stay humble.

It hasn't all been beautiful.
A compass is kept in case.

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