The Good Shit
We were told the bubbles should look like little pebbles you could pour clean into your hand.
“Go on, shake it,”
said Peanut, junk dealer, mechanic, and feral-cat wrangler by day,
shiner by night.
“Shake ’er up and pour some in the cap.”
We shook our samples, twisted off the caps
And they were like little pebbles squeeze-rising
atop a float of clear liquid, rolling over each other,
fighting their way to the surface.
“Now,” he said, dropping his voice
to a firm, reverential whisper, “that there, boys,
is good shit.”
It hit us like a vow,
and then became one,
and we each bought one of the reused
plastic Mountain Dew bottles for a couple of bucks
and took them back home
and drank them slowly that night,
feeling the good, tippling shit roll down the lengths
of our throats and simmer in our guts,
so that each passing sip became a deeper nucleus of lush darkness, whetting some soft, citified manner we could never lay claim to
nor hope to abandon in another dark, balmy night years later when Peanut’s loose-limbed, drunken body plunged
end-over-end from the water tower,
reclaimed by the backwoods of northern Florida.
Presence: Rue Girardon
Gen Paul’s atelier across the street. What nights in there!
The doctor and soon-to-be-infamous novelist doing zany jigs and,
after a fashion, the cancan for his depressed American mistress. Such small quarters, Paul’s
workspace, and that putrid yellow lighting,
but the pastis always flowing, the jokes coming bawdier, the laughter harder despite the newsreels and what everybody knew.
A war was brewing but they danced.
Midday, a storm from the north gathers over an expanse of rooftops. The old flaneur sitting unseen on the low brick wall
tells himself the lone willow tree is a near-sacred,
internal hoodoo on “the Butte”; that only the dead
could impress upon its oneiric play this whale,
this vortex, and here this next wanting grid
awaiting instinct and shape
like bird flock
over a flat sea.
All manner of utopias have been dreamed and replaced
by dynasties of pastries and lunch.
The maimed and the addled were the first to go,
followed by the whores and Jesus and the uproar
of pedagogues. The joggers replaced them all.
The flowers bloom, the clock repairman dies, and whoever that is on a piano in a basement around the corner
will never find the Kansas City of his dreams.
Soit. The old flaneur prefers only to
to be left alone, watching water gurgle up
from a street drain and run past the modest refuge
of a small city cemetery, and on down the lane.