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Ian Christopher Hooper

At night I can hear the darkness...

At night I can hear the darkness that covers and wraps the El Cortez Apartments
where Iíve lived way too long, everyone tells me
in a textured darkness, a rhythmic Latin night,
a tune felt in the Spanish voices downstairs and the lips formed into illegal vowels and impenetrable telenovelas.

And you can stay up half the night listening to the chords hidden
in the straining of a half-dozen evaporative fans,
in the humming of a floorís worth of refrigerators,
in a harmony as pitched as the summer heat
(and yet unknown to the tone-deaf rich,
living in their air-conditioned bliss).
Itís a sonic skein,
a melody of passing low-riders,
city busses,
and a drunk shouting up to unit 206, where the woman moved out last month. No one knows where sheís gone, but she used to sing sometimes in the mornings. Now I find myself humming the same tune.

This is why it does no good to move away.

Itís an audible darkness at the El Cortez, a blackness thatís just a low-hung swatch of sky, like part of a roof thatís crumbled in, and the stars are just termites eating down the rafters and thereís no knowing when itís all going to come tumbling downómight as well put on some Coltrane, I figure.

Other times I think that Iíll have moved on before then, but I know
thatís a sirenís song: the rentís cheap in the El Cortez, and when it comes down to it, I couldnít afford a different tune.

Iíd be humming the blues no matter where I lived.

Ian Christopher Hooper attended Colorado State University on a creative writing scholarship, then spent the next ten years traveling in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Currently hiding out as a school librarian in Denver, Colorado, his work has appeared in Red Booth Review, Rocky Mountain Arsenal of the Arts, Stick, The Red Wheelbarrow, among others.

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