Thursday, November 21, 2013

Punk Show in a Lounge Beneath an Ethiopian Restaurant

The restroom walls are hidden beneath a skin
of band decals and squiggles and curlicues
of graffiti. Even the floor is covered
with scribble. The room is thick
with the stench of simmering tibs
from the kitchen above, mingling with
the smell of liquid hand soap
and just a whiff of vomit. Out in the bar,
zebras thunder across a savanna painted
by some amateur muralist.
A hand-lettered sign reads Pickle Shots 3.50.
I mangle a wedge of lime between
the razor lips of an icy Tecate
and twist in my earplugs as the first band
starts banging and yelling in front of
the TV, which is showing a flick about Nazi surfers.
The night lurches on. Couples are huddled up
in the shadows. Predators eye
potential mates across the crowded room.
I am frozen in place on my stool,
mesmerized by nothing, by the space between bodies,
by the waves of heat rising from the grasslands.
A single stuffed specimen
sniffed once then ignored
by members of the still-living pack,
left to forage on whatever scraps
are left behind, sopping it up
with gray, porous injera.

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