Have you.

Have you ever wondered where your whiskey glass went?
I do. All the time.
It was just here, half full. I think.
Have you ever wondered where she went to?
I just now noticed she’s gone.
And all those parents and pets and money and jobs and friends and nights spent swimming drunk and naked in the red light of the fire exit, they’re gone too.
What gives?
Oh wait. I just remembered.
I have the whiskey glass in my left hand.

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Set to every Marshall Tucker song ever

(Written for three chords – maybe 4 if you’ve got a music degree)

Teddy only rock n’rolls when his woman ain’t around
Teddy only fist pumps when the boys are back in town
Teddy only smokes a little weed when he says he’s got the time
Teddy’s got a big black void that lives inside his mind

Janet’s got a sweet thing, working on the sly
100 dollar bills crumpled up in a garter on her thigh
She can really shake it when the lights go red and white
Dancing on the stage up there like a day without a night

Speedo’s done his time in jail, now he’s looking for an old flame
Says Janet’s the only one who ever made him feel sane
Steppin’ off the Greyhound, staring at the sky
Got that old itch in his fists and twitch inside his eye

Jan and Teddy got a motel room straight off the 101
Janet’s got her thigh-highs on, Teddy’s bout to come
She’s looking out the window, the drapes are open wide
Here comes Speedo stomping up with a crowbar by his side

(instrumental break/ guitar solo…whatever)

Teddy only rock n’ rolls when his woman’s not around
Teddy only fist pumps when the boys are back in town
Teddy only pays up when you push him to the line
Teddy’s got a big black void that lives inside his mind

*post-script: Janet went to junior college and became a dental hygienist
Speedo went back to the pen, where he found a personal savior

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The key master on a green curtain sound stage

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Point that thing somewhere else

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Mother Sky

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Foot-in-Mouth Disease

Sybil deftly separated my toes with her tongue. I could feel every wet bud move on the soft, un-sunned skin that found home in the crevices of my foot. “Have you ever studied a shoe,” she asked me, “and desired what’s inside…” she closed her painted eyelids slowly. “…the way a man stares at a tightly fitted angora sweater with lecherous hunger?”

Now in the full throes of podiatric pleasure, I could not respond. She moved to my arch with impressive oral dexterity as the sensation of ice dripped up my spine. 

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Florida Stain

In my great aunt’s bathroom
there is a ceiling stain shaped like Florida
which is fitting because
Mildred invested in three orange conglomerates
and once fucked the CEO of Tropicana
on top of his desk, in a glass corner office
overlooking the everglades.

She retired at 58,
opening her days to canasta, mahjong
and widows’ bingo in the church basement.
A purple fannypack
of slim cigarettes and
senior citizen discount coupons
hung just below her stomach
like a young marsupial.

When I inherited her condo
I left the Florida stain untouched.
Though I did get Raoul,
the building’s handyman,
to clear the chimney flume
which was clogged with ten thousand
dead baby birds.

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Disappointment in exile

The tropical climate could not defrost his bad mood. Greg sat in the thatched-palm chair with his eyes closed. The calls of colorful birds surrounded him. He traced his pinkie finger around the wet rim of an ice cold glass that held neon green alcohol. He put the tip of the pinkie into his mouth and tasted salt. So this was life in exile, he thought.

The ocean was still and blue like cleaning fluid, but Greg choose to face away from it. His chair angled toward the one-room hut where he’d slept for the last two months, and the serpentine gravel road that led to the airfield. He hadn’t heard the roar of a plane since the day he arrived.

On the sand in front of him, Greg laid a large map worn white at the creases from constant folding and unfolding. Large shells weighed down its four corners. Red X’s were drawn over the largest cities on the map. Long red arrows arched from mark to mark.

Unconsciously, he reached into his front shirt pocket but found it empty. It had been a week since he’d run out of cigarettes. Damn, he muttered. Damn it all. He bent down to the sand and picked up a splinter of wood, placing it in the corner of his mouth. It had come to this.

A disheveled man in an ill-fitting tuxedo stumbled out of the jungle. In his white-gloved hands was a silver platter. “Monsieur Gregory, would you like me to take your lunch order?”

“Dammit, not now Pirro,” snapped Greg. “ I’m not hungry.”
“Of course, sir. I will tell the cook to put the soup on simmer for a later hour.” The old man, who looked small and wrinkled inside his over-sized formal wear, pivoted and began to walk back into the dense foliage.
Greg sat up. “Oh, and Pirro — Any radio transmissions? Or floating pamphlets? Any news at all of the supply shipment?
“Only silence, Monsieur Gregory.”
“Dammit,” Greg mumbled. He chewed angrily on the wood splinter. Pirro disappeared into the jungle.

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Water on the brain

The thought of ocean travel electrified Reginald’s mind. When he closed his eyes and imagined some great wooden planked mountain gracefully cutting through the rising blue waves, massive sun-bleached sheets of cloth tied from mast to deck holding the wind like fat puffed cheeks, it made the short blonde hairs on his forearms stand upright.

True, he had never seen a real ship before. Grayton, the town he had lived in all his life, was hundreds of miles from the coast. The only body of water he had experienced firsthand was the Dead Snake River, a muddy tributary no more than twenty yards wide at its broadest bend that wound its way across his family’s farmland. Sometimes, in the winter when Dead Snake froze over, Reginald would lift the well lid and stick his whole head into the brick-circled hole, swinging the lowered bucket back and forth to hear the joyous gurgles of sloshing water.

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The Task at Hand

I just want to confirm what is needed for this task.

I sent the doctors my charts. They should have my C-scans, my F-scans, my blood-gelatin levels, and my liver-tolerance index. I have sent them a written list of all the times I’ve smoked, and all the times I have drank liquids that were not water. I tried to include a list of all the times I’ve gone to the bathroom, but it would not fit in the envelope.

I sent the Senator my legal forms, an essay and a photo. You know the photo, where I’m just about to blink and my hair looks really good. That’s the one.

I think the Senator will like it. I hope he tells his secretary to make a copy of it. I hope the Senator keeps my photo in a drawer and looks at it whenever he’s making a big decision. “Look at this man,” he’ll think. “Look at this man’s eyelids, so close to blinking, but not blinking. Look at this man’s hair, every follicle where it should be. So impressive. So inspirational. Now I know what I must do.”

I hope the Senator gets inspiration from my photo.

I just want to make sure I have submitted everything needed for this task. I spit in the medical spit sock, and I peed on the medical pee stick. These have been mailed to you. I bled a little in the blood cup and whispered a few private fantasies into the whisper bag. These have also been mailed to you.

I hope you have all you need from me. I hope you find I am up to task.

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