Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Makeout City

Thanks to Andrew and the folks at Makeout Creek for taking two poems. One of them is an elegy for Joe Bolton, my second to last puzzle piece in the manuscript that I was hoping would be published. And the other's a new nocturne that's slowly becoming part of a weird trend or series or manuscript. Who knows.

I believe I'll be in the second issue, and the first one turned out really nice, so I'm excited to see what they do what this one. Once they open up the next submission period you should send work.

I've been meaning to include Bolton's "Party" in some post for a while, so what better time for it?

It reminds me so much of Richmond the closer you get to VCU's campus, and for that reason it's been a favorite of mine since I got here, and Bolton has been one of the most influential writers in my life since I got here also.

Every other line, starting with the second in each stanza, should be indented, but for some reason Blogger's not letting me do that. Just wanted to clarify.


by Joe Bolton

Tonight, because they're not in jail, our downstairs neighbors
Are having a party. Deep Purple
Seeps up through the floor, and if there were chandeliers,
They’d tremble like flowers in water.
In the white noise between songs, I can hear Ricardo Planas,
Our fellow resident from El Salvador,
Cursing beautifully in Spanish. The guys downstairs,
So far as we can tell, do nothing

Except get themselves arrested every week or so. I think
They’re dangerous, and you think
They just need to get laid. And, by god, they’re trying.
They hoot and whistle, trying to seduce
Coeds off the street, but the coeds aren’t going for it,
No matter how resourcefully their backsides
Are described. It’s dusk, and it’s soggy hot in here,
So I decide to give up the literary life

For a gin and tonic and a view from the window.
Over the building across the street
That used to be a grocery store that used to be
A TV repair shop that used to be
A pet cemetery and which a young couple and their huge dog
Have been trying to make into a home
For the past month, the sky is vaguely Turneresque
Through a new green fleece of the willows.

The intensity of almost-summer is pulsing through the city
Like heroin through the addict’s veins,
The dog is sleeping to forget the weight of his chain,
And the couple are enjoying their Cablevision.
Or maybe they’re not. The woman stands in the doorway
Contemplating the party downstairs, then,
Without explanation or goodbye to the man, comes striding
Across the street to join it.

She is sadly pretty in her earth shoes and cut-offs
And shirt that says she’s a Pepper,
Her hair looking blown as if by some imaginary breeze.
She can’t be more than seventeen,
And the man, who can’t be much more than that,
Stands open-mouthed at the doorway.
“Victoria!” he screams, loud enough for me
To hear it over the music.

“Where in the hell do you think you’re going?”
No answer I can make out.
“What in the hell are you doing to me, Victoria?”
She’s disappeared below the window.
“Goddamnit, Victoria! We’re not talking about a relationship,
We’re talking about marriage!”
I’m embarrassed for him, and a little uneasy, and you
Want to know what’s going on.

“Do you love me, Victoria? Do you love me?”
Apparently, she doesn’t. He shakes
His fist as us or at the gods, then skulks back inside.
I’m having visions of his returning
With a shotgun to blow away the guys downstairs,
And perhaps me, too, and perhaps even
Ricardo Planas, who doesn’t speak English well enough
To debauch anybody’s wife.

I glance at you and you arch my eyebrows to suggest one last
Sweaty quickie before I’m killed.
But when the guy comes back outside, he’s still
Barefoot, and armed only with a bottle
Of Jack Daniel’s. He takes a long swig of bourbon,
Then sits down on the sidewalk
And starts to cry, his bony chest heaving.
I turn away. You’ve gone back

To the wild casserole you’re concocting, and we
Say nothing of what we’ve seen or heard
When I come back into the kitchen to pour myself another.
I wander into the bedroom,
Light a cigarette, and lie down on the bare floor.
The music throbs through me
Like an infection; the amber streetlights make
Impossible maps on the walls.

A siren whines nearer and nearer, then fades away.
The party will go on for hours,
Long past the time when sleep will seem our luxury.
Maybe the young couple across the street
Will piece things back together; maybe Victoria
Will ride west on a stolen motorcycle
With one of the guys downstairs and never be
Heard from again; maybe her husband

Will hang himself to show her just how much
He loves her. Maybe Ricardo Planas
Is thinking, this evening, of the beautiful woman
He loved who was shot to death
For no reason on an otherwise quiet street in San Salvador.
I don’t know what any of it means or matters.
In the morning, sure as sunrise, we’ll all dress our bodies
And walk out hungover into America.