a strip club waitress brings me lemon balm from her garden

my pink body in the broken
yolk of pale blue morning, weaving threadbare
and wobbling odd. these feet fall 
from a terrified height, inches 
from river valley slap to summit. what
kind of life is this, to suck greedily 
at the edge of atmosphere? my friend 
she has paper bag lungs, i stood with her
under awning in the soothing roar of a yawning
Tennessee thunderstorm. we sipped bad
beer from brown bag, paper, and imagined 
ourselves. a man we did not know, though
maybe he knew us, sprinted on cardboard 
legs to a waiting car, rumbling. the car
and the thunder. he pantomimed 
reaching for a waistband’d gun, and we all
laughed at our shared difficulty 
in breathing. we are companions! 
travelers through space and time! how could we be 
anything but good friends? 

when i walk through Fall, wishing i was 
in it, i hear the rasp of leaves, fallen 
from space. i hear the paper bag 
lungs of my friend who once sipped bad
beer with me in a flat state. we filled 
with effervescence in attempt at calling 
forth mountains to that paper plane. 
what kind of a life is this? another friend 
of mine, me—the self-proclaimed friendless!!—he lives 
only occasionally. i hiked a mountain in Alaska
with him several years back. we spent hours 
yanking ourselves up that mountain, my pink body
dripping in yolk, to pitch our tents 
in sprawling emerald alpine valley, and smoke
cheap heroin off tinfoil. the sunset was
that Summer night magnificent! 
the heroin made me laugh and made him 
agitated. now he sometimes sleeps 
in the back of truck, sometimes on a couch, maybe 
on a park bench, if the rain isn’t too 
insistent. is this living? he still likes 
heroin and tin foil; i like to put tin foil in the oven, 
to catch melting cheese as it sighs
featureless into browning bread.

Published by Zak

an intertidal island in an ocean of impermanence.

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