Amateur Phlebotomy

Neither of us are making much sense
at the oak in the witching hour.
He's homeless and I'm hapless.
Hook-nosed Guineas two-thirds of my age
one-third of his
fill the haggard taproom
with laughter so naive
and jukebox monopolies
that seem foreign
this sloppily late at night.

Neither of us envies the other.
Both of us are waiting to die
for the day.

"What if I'd sat next to her instead?"
I ask the rambling beardsman
halfway through his yarn
from thirty years ago
when he still paid taxes.
He claims to have hauled cable
three hundred feet
up the radio towers on the mountain
that we're all supposed to share.

"It was different then,"
Patrick prattles on, sipping the beer
that I'd offered to buy
though the barkeep had not the heart
to charge--even though it's imported.

"She didn't know," I say
of the offender's wife and kid back home
both unaware of the kisses
I saw doled through the prior bar's window.

I bum him a smoke on the sidewalk
and ask when he served
since it's obvious
ending our encounter with a handshake
that's overdue for both of us
unwashed piss germs be damned.

The second set of stairs
up to my apartment
nearly does me in
like the sickening sight
of gin mill adultery--
matrimonial musical chairs.
A verse comes to mind
from what seems a past life:
"But as for me and my house
we will serve the Lord."


Deepwater Backtrack

She said laughter's all we need;
that it heals a lot of things.
The dreamer in me decided
to put that to the test.

I opened the refrigerator
and chuckled at its contents.
A degree in English appeared on my wall
freshly signed by a man I'd never met.

Next I checked my bank account
with an app that reads my thumbprint
though I don't know my own blood type.
Another joke unveiled itself
despite my constant efforts.
A ring suddenly adorned my left hand.

I made sure no one was around
and unzipped my jeans
to look down at the small source
of so many large problems.
Jackie didn't conjure herself
in my arms as expected.
I'm too big of a prick
for that degree of magic
but Lord I'd gladly trade it
for all the paper mills in Maine.


Campsite Blues

This computer's on the top bunk
in the spare room of his trailer.
I'm typing standing up
not because Hemingway did
but due to the placement of outlets
and my need for a flat surface
that's almost as rare
as sentences sans cussing
here in the eye of it.

To my right sits half a slice
of German chocolate cake
that I pilfered from some brothers
down around the bend.
A bottle of gin
labeled with the name of Jackie's town
is on the countertop
one room to the west
tasting like sumac smells
and without a lime to mask it.
I'll be so blessed
to never drink either again

Like the birds that started singing
when the downpour stopped this evening
unsure if it was morning
or just less of the night

But the air conditioner overhead
turns on and blasts away
to the thermostat's content
until the mourning lets us go;
Until it's morning.



Around that bend
a few miles back
it got too sad
to do anything
but laugh.



Scratching himself while looking down
into his new neighbor's curtainless window
[Here we go with the bullshit.]
he declares to no one in particular
that the Bloody Mary's been the best part of dinner.
[More horseradish.]

He picks up Kurt's novel long gone untouched
[Wait, who lifted it?
I did. I'm taking responsibility
for this one. All of it felt good.]
and hears a metallic bounce across his
[Fuck off; my]
floor, its frequency increasing
with gravity's constant victory.

That tapped ball bearing's suddenly remembered.
It was first found in his sheets
[Nice save through ambiguous wording.]
with the owner still in tow
but her piercing was ridiculous
so I didn't give it back
[Finally, a man of his word.]
even after I asked her to leave
[like you will].

It rolls under the longest run of baseboard heating
unused in this summer month
to be forgotten again until a thorough sweeping
when the bobby pins strike back
and the wine corks yell of murder.


With Option to Buy

Eyes that scream "Come hither"
freckles on bare calves
wine that isn't needed
like footnotes of our pasts

Fires in the iron
guns checked at the door
strands of different colors
on a class act and his floors

Out of season oysters
symmetry be damned
threadbare torn to ribbons
beneath two clove-hitched hands

Captives bound by plaster
a Monday sweeping dust
forever seems a short time
to fireworks like us.