Stirring : A Literary Collection

Emory Elkins


Don't utter a word don't take a quick look
in the strange feeling of the abandoned parking lot --
see the cats walking home with their eyes scratched closed
and their clothes torn to shreds -- stutter-step panic-time --
dime-store existentialists, spinning and puzzled, nervously relieved
that this night is over -- just stand right here and smoke
beside your make-shift cider-block seat and watch
how the sliced moon's light cuts across your corduroys
and you know you'd be the first to die in any
sort of skirmish, but they will live on, nights when no one
else is watching -- somewhere in a custodian's kitchen,

two chickens, recently washed and shaven, patiently sit
on the counter, beside the dirty sink, mindfully present
between fact and fiction -- stand right here and smoke.
What are the differentials a violin makes,
as opposed to bluesy, xylophone drummers,
or steel guitars?  Watch the sanguine junkies walk
through the passing bus fumes
as the yellow streetlight softens and spreads -- do not notice
your clothes; don't become ashamed -- dichotomous notions

will be your allies -- don't think of what to
tell your son; don't think of what to tell your father --
stand right here and smoke; be like the superhero who
always keeps the roses in-
side of him -- to be used on demand, or at his discretion.
And the sky nearing dawn glows a dust orange blue.  Don't indulge
in any foolishness.

Think of green suits, sinister snickers, quaint metaphysical hymns --
you might just be tired, like the exhausted taste of a nipple ring's metallic;
the sweat off a Celtic tattoo -- and when she walks by -- tight black pants
and the strut standing still -- promising the coming
home's started, and so you jump around, clueless awkward --
for the last time:  Don't turn and stare.

There's a long-stemmed stanza from your brown-wrappered bottle --
tired sirens shrivelled screams urine splashing against the wall;
the Spiderman stays down on the corner, in his underwear and
giving back the glares; showing off his scars.  This, surely,
must be the antithesis:  God shows up at noon.
Just stand right here and smoke.

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Stirring : A Literary Collection

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