Warped Records & Soup-Stained Ties

The scratch of every bramble in your laugh wears off thick like a lobster mold that’d hold slim your shape so well. So well, so long. So much for routine. The soft ripple of loss has gone to the power lines’ sizzle. Make a mistake with an unruly bouquet. Haven’t you seen me somewhere before? I know the name but not the face. A rusty colloquy tried under other banners. I own the place where the sidewalk goes. As my father was fond of saying, “I was brought into this world on a tide of whisky, and, damn it, I’m going out of it on one too.” Things wore from grainy to a Simonized-finish calm then. I was having thinking-man’s orgasms. I bathed with a shower cap on. Stressed joists were cowering beneath the load. Milkmaids pranced with buckling knees in the most sincere of weather. Nobody was pacing themselves. It was all, “Traipse with me. Misbehaving’s in the tap. Drink up. Be alright. Drink long. Be well while you are still not dead yet.” The circuitry of care and cheer got all mangled into piece-by-whole magnetism, refracted yet still carved in and out of sight. Wedding-dress days. Back-of-the-pickup-truck nights. Telephone poles racing against the subtle ash of a cobalt backdrop, some blushing sky pricked by mountain peaks and bleeding silvery streaks from a pulsating infestation of stars. Alpine heights just below the snowline. Tufa, obsidian, granite, pumice — all bunched up from sleek to obstreperous. Lenticular clouds like seahorses on a smoke break. We jaw-dropped when we had the chance. Turned down the volume. Sped up the visuals. Lay down in the grocery-store light. We had a lot of time to recover. Just like Chap Stick only leads to more Chap Stick. No need to resort to peace. No need of jumping from the fire escape. Tufts of Googie architecture in the drafty essence, sloped roofs popped with scintillating rivets, mossy highlights of Edison bulbs dangling from ropes, a tawny ceiling of lumps like sand dunes, a spaceship in the parking lot. And a robotic phone call to cheer you up: “Ginny died in the Mulberry bush. Born late with a Hollywood face. Passed ready. Fear of the dark is no longer an instinct of great value when all is well-lit. Next.” So, take that gun off and stay a while. A spare haircut, just in case. Tripped from bar stool to table to booth to floor. Same as it never won’t be. I curried favor with miscreants by ladling out gobs of, “Like hell I will-or-won’t. These instincts are lousy. Cut the ribbon and show me whatever prizes you’ve got behind door #1 already. Moose steps, here, sons. Don’t start believing. Anyone but me first. Get out the butcher knives; we’re headed for sliced life.” It was an okay time to be alive. People made sandwiches and broke a few laws here and there. Olives went out of season with the death of all flies. I do remember one fellow named Tadaroosh who said, “Lie to me,” a lot. I never did. Eyes lost as rings. Shoes filled with pebbles and dirt. Hands held. Grass-stained. Bottle empty. The sharp cussing of birds like breves written hard in barely legible trees. We spilled the wine of our lives all over our best clothes and stood there like happy idiots, which, of course, we were.

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