Still Time Dismembered 2020

December-  These ghosts still punch your ticket

Hot Horse’s Christmas visit.                 

                                                                           – For Billy Gas

On the night they made it official that the talking Plywood was moving his plank into the White House Hot Horse celebrated by sleeping in his car at the train station.

 

Earlier in the evening

he sat in the bowling alley bar

out near the airport

with Frank Meyers and Billy Gas

in Lucky Ward’s dream.

 

They all traded their stories

while it snowed like hell outside.

It was black guy league night.

One dejected spade stood at the bar

with a small wooden sign hung

about his neck with a chain.

Engraved in the middle of it

was the word “shitty.”

 

They all accepted this.

 

Upon returning from taking a leak

down the other end of the alley,

Hot Horses reported that the white

bowlers were supplementing their

game with a deck of extremely

explicit pornographic playing cards.

 

Both Frank and Billy took turns

going to the can.

 

Later in the course of the conversation

all agreed that the deck beat the “Shitty”

sign hands down and the scene on the

joker card from the white guys dirty

deck was everybody’s favorite.

 

Gradually the rolling concussions of

strikes, spares and ten-pin splits subsided.

Frank Meyers asked, “so your really going to

see Lucky Ward this time?”

Hot Horse shrugged, “looks like it…..don’t really

know what to expect, it’s been twenty years.

He’s hold up back at his folk’s house, the marriage

went south back on the west coast, wife got her nose

stuck in the whiff bucket, his kids are all grown,

and he’s been on workmen comp.”

 

“I can dig it,” Billy Gas interjected, “I feel like

I could blow a gasket any day now.”

 

 

At the end of the evening they dropped Hot Horse

off at his car at the train station.

The snow had tapered off.

Hot Horse produced a three foot gilded

imitation porcelain angel from his trunk for Frank’s mom.

“She’ll love that, Billy observed.

 

“Yeah”, Hot Horse went, “just never know what you’ll

find out at BIG LOTS.”

 

Frank beamed, “Bet she puts it right on top of the television.”

 

They left Hot Horse to sleep in his car and

ponder the new administration while waiting for

his train at dawn.

 

In the middle of the night

Hot Horse was startled out a thin nod

by the roar a long thunderous freight train

high balling through the station.

The resounding rhythmic concussion

detonated ton after ton of frozen steel down

the rails like a murderous immense bowling ball

gutter channeled with razor flange.

It pounded away with a ear puncturing madness

cyclone snow sideways in a

shattering nightmare of runaway motion.

 

Hot Horse groggily attempted to make sense

of what was passing him by.

 

Then the monster just disappeared into a shroud

of white vapors and powdery snow waves

as one trailing red eye winked while it faded

and faded into the gray swirling sponge of false dawn blackness.

 

Then Hot Horse set alone in silence.

 

Eventually he fell back asleep

and dreamed of frozen useless switches

on the main line

while he heard Lucky Ward’s voice,

“even after you think you’ve learned the ropes,

you have to read so far between those lines on

that script that you begin to get the idea

the whole scene is better off left unperformed

and then one day you just get shut down.

Coldly cut out of it all

your just another derailment without so much as

your name on it.

Attitude House   01/01

Her Merry Christmas

Somebody’s Mom

Maybe sister, perhaps Aunt

is sitting out there

wishing you would walk in the door

of the kitchen,

the barroom,

the bedroom

and give her just one good reason

to believe/forget the world’s cold shoulders

and hard edges and all that shit she’s had to eat over

all the years might have meant something

more than the husband that barely speaks to her

the old friends that seldom call

not to mention the children that

ignore/take her for granted.

 

She’s listening to the Christmas music

sitting in the colored lights with a glass of wine

the tears are barely an after-thought

as she wonders why you never showed up

in her life and perhaps if you did once

why she ever,

ever let you go.

 

12/99

 

Christmas Visit Snapshot

Nearly noon along the Hudson

Brilliant light about

descending rust wine

iron crane wench hook

set in blue and white midday relief.

 

McNamara’s daughter isn’t coming

Johnny in Singapore

You sit in here alone

listening to the bartender

tell that the pickpockets are

using box cutters this year

up on 86th and Lexington.

 

Back in the Big Red Mountain booth

way downtown beaten worn linoleum

I’ll call you from the payphone

in the back near the pool table

while listening to the killer jukebox

resurrect Spike Jones singing,

“you always hurt the one you love.”

 

12/99

He’s Dreaming of a White Supremacist Christmas

Just about a couple of weeks before Christmas

early evening quiet barroom

couple of regulars, off-duty bartenders

gentle snow at the window, soft music low in the background.

Easy early holiday conversation

locals drifting in & out between Christmas shopping

to get warm, grab a cold one, maybe a bite to eat.

 

In the middle of the sparse crowd sits this guy.

Beat up peaked ball cap, barn coat and muddy rubber boots

smoking alone.

 

Bartenders all dolled up in her Christmas dress.

She even had a slight hint of glitter on her cheeks.

She’s flushed with excitement.

Big night later, annual staff party.

Just a little girl in Christmas morning still

peaking out of her eyes.

 

It’s drift and rift quiet banter time

between a few friends.

 

Every once in awhile our boy in the middle lets’ loose

with an unsolicited comment.

Like: “Fuckin sucks, I hate all this Christmas crap.”

(While staring straight ahead)

 

He’s getting expressly ignored.

Not getting a rise out of anybody.

Figures he’ll give another shot.

 

“Fuckin assholes, fuck the lights, fuck this time of year.

Fuck that jew bastard hippie carpenter, what bullshit,

if he walked in here tonight, I’d personally nail him to

that fuckin tree again with his own fuckin hammer.”

 

Regular A shrugs.

He remarks, “Yeah it ain’t Christmas till somebody dies.”

 

Followed on the heels by regular B who counters with,

“Yeah my grandfather was killed by a drunk driver a

couple of days before New Years back in 37.”

 

Girl behind the bar pales visibly.

 

Door opens.

Regular C walks in the bar and announces,

“well that’s it…she wants a divorce and the doctor

tells me today that my stool sample came back positive.

Christ…pour me a shot…hell make that double and

while you’re at get these guys something…Merry

Fuckin Christmas!”

 

 

 

Meanwhile laughing boy sitting in the middle of the

bar is staring at the regulars with his mouth open.

Scoops up his change and smokes and heads for the

door muttering over his shoulder…

“Man what a bunch of fuckin sick losers, I’m going

somewhere where they know how to party, I mean

after all it is goddamn Christmas.”

 

Regulars A, B, C. and bartender sit in silence.

Finally B goes, “Anybody know that guy?”

C pushing his shot glass toward the bartender

says, “I think he’s the guy that plays Santa at WALMART.”

…musta had a tough day at work.”

“Yeah” Regular A offers philosophically…

“the holidays can be rough on us all.”

 

12/00-2/01

 

 

                                                                                              

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