Friday, November 29, 2013

At the Bonfire

They painted over that mural of Mt. Rushmore
that had the faces of Indian chiefs
in place of the presidents, and you know what, I miss it,
even though it was poorly rendered,
and you couldn’t tell who any of the chiefs
were supposed to be, though to be honest
I probably wouldn’t have recognized them
no matter how good the likeness. Maybe Sitting Bull,
since my ex had a print of his portrait on her wall.
You can still see the mural very faintly
through the layers of white paint.
I’m sitting outside the bar across the street, listening
to the members of some band at the next picnic table over
drunkenly bitch about the douchebag owners
of the local music venues, and I swear
there are few things that elicit less sympathy
than a bunch of young white musicians griping
about how unfair the world is. The waitress comes out
for a smoke and joins in the complaining,
whining about her living situation, sharing an apartment
in a recently-gentrified part of town. She’s wearing
a long shirt as if it is a dress and cowboy boots the sky
is clear and black and I can see some endangered
Portland constellations, and her cigarette smoke
is stinging my sinuses, I’ve backed myself

into a corner in my life, and barring
some act of the god I don’t believe in I don’t see how
I’m going to weasel my way out of this one, and the waitress
has gone back inside just as I was about to order
another, and I feel myself fading, layer by layer,
draining myself of life like I drained the cheater pint
of locally brewed IPA on the table before me, I wonder
what would happen if giant robots would descend
from the sky and annihilate us all, all us American
hipsters, middle class slackers, we sure have it coming
me the musicians the cokehead wait staff
the white guy with the dreadlocks
the beautiful athlete leaning into every word uttered by
the girl with the cleavage but no chin
the biker with no helmet and no light cruising by
whoever painted those Indian chiefs
whoever painted over them. We all get crushed,
burnt by the robot’s laser eyes, or made their slaves,
dragged off to work some uranium mine
halfway across the galaxy.
I certainly don’t want to die, but it’s easy to argue that
on some level we all sort of deserve to.
And oh, the night air is cool and caresses me
I can see my own hot shadow plastered on the wall
under the orange lights, my own reflection
searing the one-way glass of the bar window,
and the athlete has decided he can do better
and jettisons his date, who is chatting up the guy
with the dreads, and I am arrogant enough to wonder why
I, the most interesting person on this street,
this town, this planet, am once again
trudging home alone, though I know I should
be grateful I even have a home to go to, that I’m not
sleeping under a bridge, or being marched
toward some reservation, or God forbid concentration camp,
I’m fortunate that the only jail I’m confined to
is of my own making, is my own bulging sack
of pale, pale skin.

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