on the perpetually wet streets of Clifton

10 pm
fresh out of sin
headed for a sip
in a bergamot tearoom
I became distracted
my January boots
compelled
to follow memories
through puddles of patchouli oil
stalls peddling shiny baubles
half finished dissertations
and bohemian postulation
stopping abruptly
at Biagio’s Bistro
fine Italian cuisine
featuring a gourmet dessert cart
a self service bar for the regulars
despite having
no customers &
a candlelit patina
covering
a thousand nights
spent ruining tablecloths
lovingly destroying
illusions
your every word brilliant
eyes alight
that saccharine fucking
Andrea Bocelli CD playing
on maddening repeat
my laughter too loud
for the intimate room
we were certainly doomed
our conversations
were always the wildest sex
i smiled remembering
into the fezziwig glow
of the old window
warmed by the fact
they still haven’t dusted
when
my ears perked alive
as suddenly crept
haunted sounds of
a minstrel show
a hand
strumming a guitar
your voice
in half notes
amidst sodium lamp motes
drawing me toward
that ancient apartment building
where you
serenaded me
I began to
swiftly seek
certain
I would find you
if only the source of the sound
was located
before the melody ended
rounding the corner
I found myself all alone
with weary dumpsters & brownstones
breathing clouds of longing
hair damp
with the scent
of dead pine wreaths
& recollection
because
truth be told
i miss my friend
so true without you
there will never again be
music for me
on the perpetually wet streets
of Clifton

such promise

it was a hot wednesday afternoon
i saw her downtown
this old high school classmate of mine
valedictorian of her class
hanging like a drying dish rag
on the pock-covered arm
of her fourth divorce

they looked like they had just driven in
from a northern shithole township
to taste
of the urban opioid market

oh,

merri smyth
merri smyth

full of
such
promise

please
tell me this

how is it
you are not
an astrophysicist

instead

a
mother of seven

living and dying
on public assistance

master class

i suppose you could say

i’m one of those people

who has seen more than their

fair share of things

you will certainly find

me adept

in a broad range of topics

from culinary techniques

to obscure music

embalming

comic books

addictive substances

and

lesser know shitty diners

of the northeast

some of it owed to college

and my need

to join the rat race too soon

mostly it was my proclivities

my insistence on taking

a master class

in dating old fucks

what an education

Paris in the rain

a woman’s life

is too tenuous

delicate

billowy

spider web

close call on I-75

in preterm labor

on the way to the

Paris airport

in the rain

fragile

beautiful

precious

sacrosanct

finite

for bad friends

bad family

bad coffee

bad shoes

bad mattresses

bad jobs

bad husbands

bad debt

and bad dick

learn this by 30 for maximum

enjoyment

future

female

conquerors

of a dying planet

Dinner at the Sizzler

if purgatory

is a soup kitchen line

in a catholic church

hell

is serving up grub

on the corner of 8th & vine

southern baptists

pulling up

in their tax exempt jesus wagon

to serve homeless people

hot chili in july

heaven, happens

in Cincinnati

when pigs fly

Mother-Over-the-Rhine

we were four madcaps deep

in a ratskeller bathroom stall

stoned

within boozy historic walls

one of us pissing

three of us smoking

all of us drinking

3 queens and a king holding court

in the men’s room shitter

gods were made

mushroom euphoric

k-hole bar bouncers lamented

upstairs Nagasaki

our glee

our group dynamic pee

a urinal patron

chimed in

with delighted confusion

so

my lips began

to recite a poem

summoned at will

about buying tickets to the show

spoken word,

nay,

spoken turd, i say

he laughed and applauded

on the other side

of our bomb shelter door

in that moment

we

truly lived

every parade

i found your death certificate
in public records
you died alone
in 1995
in northside
as you had lived
you were dead on arrival
at UC hospital
AIDS only left behind your shadow
i was on bed rest with the twins
i couldn’t come to your funeral
i am so sorry
and i hate
that they sent your body
back to kentucky
to the soil that rejected your very existence
cincy pride is today
i went for you
every parade
is for you,
Doug

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