My navigator fell asleep,
Along with the other boys,
In the shadow of the swallow.
Now the digital clock threatens
Another hour behind the wheel
And my caffeinated hands chatter.
A coat of molasses adorns the windshield
Or my eyes sepia tone the interstate.
The highway is in hyperjinx.
Swinging in delirium I begin to yearn for what I’ve never had:
Thirteen winds of a rope
And the friction of hemp against my throat.
But there’s a girl in Greenville waiting, yet.
Up North, her scouting eyes brushed off my leaves.
She called me January’s dogwood.
But I told her I could make her shake.
I woke to Weight Loss Hypnosis just after 4 a.m.
My eyelids rose slowly, cautiously, like dawn in December.
The purple light from the TV screen lowered its shoulder.
You make a plan, choose a diet, and try to exercise, but you still can’t lose weight!
Turn your life around with the power of hypnosis!
The propaganda was harassing my ears
And the glow in the dark stickers on her ceiling were making me dizzy.
I turned over deliberately as to avoid waking her.
The bed squeaked.
Two hours ago, I could smell her breath as she explained,
Between zealous kisses,
That the frame was the culprit.
Some screws were loose, and they were six-sided, and
She didn’t have the right tools to tighten them.
An Allen Wrench, her father told her.
Anymore, Brian doesn’t say much.
When I feel up to it, I drive to visit him.
We’ve been best friends since Mrs. Hooper’s first grade class and,
Until our freshman year in college,
He lived with his family out Hebron Road near a creek.
Now he stays just south of Belmont near a chemical plant that smells like rotten eggs.
I didn’t even bring flowers.
It’s nearly winter and the grass is wet from last night’s rain.
My legs stiffen in defiance as I walk towards him.
I start to feel dizzy and then the stiffness tapers into trembling so I crouch down
And extend my hands for balance.
I run my fingers along his granite face and speak.
He’s contemplating, calculating, but
His expression never changes. Equal parts despondence and confidence.
I want to hug him.
I remember hex drive screws that tightly fastened his box
When I carried him here.
But now, the ground between us is suddenly too much.
I reach into my pocket for the black Allen Wrench and lay it in front of him.
Shopping for a gift for my son's10th birthday
I search through the store before little Andy’s 10th birthday
And pause: Maybe I’ll buy him this beginner’s guitar.
Andy could express himself, and Diana would love to hear him play.
And maybe, just maybe, he’ll grow up to be a star,
Writing revolutionary songs like Dylan, or Lennon, or Belafonte.
Fascists would fret when his songs climbed the charts.
But maybe that guitar will be his drug, and then cast him aside.
He’ll drop out of college and they’ll put him on the dayshift.
And when my colleagues ask for updates, I’ll start with “In the meantime…”
So they’ll smile PTA smiles and resume talk of grad school and internships.
And then later, maybe Andy will watch as his wife leaves with my only grandchild
And he’ll cuss her, complaining that she doesn’t understand him. No one understands him.
I lower my head and push my cart past the music aisle,
Towards something like a science kit, something worthwhile.