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J. Marvin

Lies in 56


Grey fog the Firestone plant off the freeway
bathed in yellow light a two tone Chevy
the building's gargoyles watch every car's move
I only have eyes for you on the radio glowing
a dull green it was me and her a Southern California
winter night I sat in ambulatory shock wondering
where he had went too his name never mentioned
but he was there between us on that night and many
more to come only later did I realize she had run him off
I hated her for it blame her for making him something
neither of us could have so I searched for him in the face
of others most of my life until I found him one Christmas
in a mall with a friend touched his grave stone off another
freeway told him it was OK I had worked it out there on
my haunches in the purple afternoon sun lying to him
lying to myself the same way I had lied to others
the same way she had lied to me.

That Tree

I got big something or other tree in my backyard
this tree is old crusty bark bare branches scream
against the winter sky and in the middle of this tree
sits a hole and in that hole lives a collection of squirrels
one of them sticks his head out of the hole and watches
me come and go and I dig that hole and want to reach
inside that hole and see into that hole and live in that
fucking hole up there warm against the cold night
I can't get my mind off that hole and those squirrels
do they ever think of death their death my death
your death the way I think of my death and that hole
on a ladder middle of the stupid cold night flashlight
eye to the hole hand in the hole the feel of fur and teeth
and cut flesh razor sharp slices you'd think I'd had
enough of that tree burnt bark barren branches hole
in the middle you'd think I could get my mind off
that hole that I had enough of that hole but I can't
get my mind off that hole anymore than I can get my
mind off my death it stays with me rides to work with me
sleeps with me and waits for me its dark center looking
out at me knowing it will still be in that tree in that backyard
long after I'm gone.

Against the Cold

A car crawls across an icy road battling the blowing snow
its blue paint stands defiant against the white and gray from
the snow and icy pavement it was the three of us radio on
listening to the news and weather nothing said between us
except the idle chatter before death a way to cover a one
way ride from this moment to that from this icy road
to that the last rights before the final walk we pulled off
the road into Bing's Travel Store the three of us jacked
on junk hefting and poking the various packaged goods
chocolate cupcakes and mint cookies helped ourselves
to soda and chips making small talk with the fat bald man
behind the counter until I couldn't take it anymore I hit him
he hit him I pulled him from behind the counter and she
kicked him he was gone another vacancy in one of the
Christ child's temples we cleaned the drawer stocked up
split for Bismarck picked up three days later locked behind
county walls it was the three of us she rolled when push
came to shove now the two of us set to dangle in a dance
of death defiant against the cold one more time

The Standard

The standard was there for you to bend down and pick up
instead you chose to ignore it your youthful back
pink untouched too self absorbed too busy to act to change
the way things were instead you chose to walk down
the same path your elders moved on letting yourself down
letting me down letting us down so when I saw you other day
wearing a crown of skin and hair black and pursued by the sun
I wanted to yell out you had your prance motherfucker it was
there Jumpin' Jack Flash and Street Fightin' Man
you didn't act on I didn't act on we didn't act on it
we watched it slip away to trace or a note in a song
nothing left now a memory stored in a brain cell somewhere
the standard left on the ground trampled under the utter bullshit
of another Monday morning.


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