UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY - 11/2012

JIM DAVIS

Badlands

Soft light; he called drinks like a wolf sniffing air:
two fingers raised, silent and purposeful, mouthful of gin,
small chip of ice in his teeth, he’d signal to the barkeep –
who was scrubbing glasses with a dishtowel, chewing on a stir –
and tap at his coaster. Before long, another drink.
And it went on like that until we found ourselves
hunting grub on the street, finding the pizza truck
where slices went fingertip to elbow. He whispered something
to the man wrapped in an apron in the truck, slid his hand
toward the oven. You leave! the man said, You leave motherfuck!
How were we to know his uncle laid himself frantically
upon a rogue grenade the week prior; witnesses, grateful
for breath, breathed red-iron mist and smoke and coughed.
We left hungry and laughing, discussing the vibrant vagaries
one discusses when he doesn’t realize how drunk he’s become.
It was the sort of weather that makes you forget
about weather: perfect nothingness. We arrived and I sat
on the patio with my feet up, trying to remember the lyric
of a song: Drink drink in the badlands; liquid bread for the poor.
Lids heavy, I nearly slept. I could have spent all night on that porch
but I was startled by an argument at the liquor store on the corner
where two stallions bucked on either side of an awning. I hid indoors
and he popped the tops on two imported beers and we stood
for a while at the marble island. He slid me a fork and we ate
what was left of the rhubarb pie his grandmother sent him.
A wicker bowl of peaches and pears softened on the credenza.
And there were many other people I did not know. Everyone
seemed to be having fun. A couple kissed in the doorway. I slept
on the laundry room floor. When I woke I poured a glass of milk,
then another, and another, wishing for some history of my own.









© 2004-2012 Underground Voices