Secret Mantra

The Scarecrow sits at the end of the bar
with five empty bottles, like five empty lives,
drained and finished without a future.

I take my place before the altar
and recite my secret mantra,

a ceremonious sigh of fuck
as I shoot my first shot of whiskey.

The bells of boredom toll.

The night lingers on like a slow divorce.

2-3-4 shots of whiskey
and still the beauty fails to wrap
its silken legs around me.

I swallow the room.........

Pit-bull rednecks shooting pool,
broken bottle girls talking tough,
rag-doll, fallen angels, wary of love,
hungry for the quick fix.

And forever the Scarecrow, wrapped in silence,
with dried up dreams in dead gray eyes,
slumped like a sad forsaken ghost,
waiting for salvation.

Night after night the scene remains
fixed and haunted, like a desperate painting,
brushed by the shaky hand of Van Gogh.

I think about one eared Vincent,
sitting in the shadows, sipping absinthe,
breathing the beauty that, in this hour,
leaves me gasping, like a landed fish.

I turn back to the altar and order another.

I face my reflection in the mirror
and recite my secret mantra.

Jim Peck is an industrial slave, born and raised in Providence R.I.,
currently living in Modesto California. Recent work has appeared
in Thunder Sandwich, Heat City Review, Third Lung Review,
and Spent Meat.

2005 Underground Voices