Poetry 2015 / Volume 46

We were playing shuffleboard at the Last Chance Saloon when a fight broke out on the tile-chipped dance floor — Brian Collier

to the tune of the guttural rumblings of “Skynrd’s Innyrds,” fists
craving communion with jaw, neck, mouths broke in slurred
epitaphs of human decency. And then there was you: indecipherably
dancing amidst the cacophony of spit and beer, light years away
from the fray but maybe feasting on all of it, creature of the wheel
barrowing into the night like a rhinoceros in heat. Yes! Or no.

Fuzz busting left and right, toss a handful of salt on the board
and let fly amplitudes of sheer stupidity. We’re here, after all.
We are dressed in bacchanalia. We are toothless grin, git ‘er
done, PBR folk, kicking gravel in the parking lot on our way in.
We are Jonesy losing his shit at the bar, little Jonesy driving
a mad blue car through the stars because the beauty of men

never dies. We just strap on our invisible safety helmets, keep
at least one arm or leg outside of the vehicle at all times ‘cuz
if you can’t feel the breeze on your body are you really moving?
What I mean to say is that we’ve inhabited these states
of reckless wonderment hungry only for the visceral, the tactile,
gut-punched and grinning stupid moons Jonesy hand slaps

the buffoons at the bar and you are oblivious, maybe, or
just hyper-vigilant, seizing on the dance floor like an eel
in troubled waters, doubling back on Jackson Street:
the heat on the prowl, the townies in rural regalia and each
stalk of corn on the edge of town morns every star bold enough
to scatter some old light in this misdirection. The shaky grace

you’ve now erected on the bucket seat beside me balks
at these promises of middle America that I might recite to you
in the extraterrestrial glow of the dashboard lights: the summer
nights will vibrate with a slowly growing melancholy,
these street lamps will hum with an energy summoned from
young lust; the crickets’ midnight sermon will crescendo

into a wave of bravely rising stupidity and our love will—not
our love for each other but our love for loving each other
will swarm, flicker and sway like a summer symphony of fireflies,
stark little ignitions of light in the dark swim of July, bouncing
under the weight of branches dancing under the tread
of Jonesy’s vehicle of dread and joy, black-eyed and violent. But alive.

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