Thursday, May 5, 2016

Love Boat

Sneakers crunched acorns as I cut across the park
checking and rechecking the nearly illegible address
scribbled on the back of a Value Village receipt
Finally found the suburban two story house
on a quiet street all its lights blazing
Lashed to the railing of the porch a life preserver
with the words LOVE BOAT printed across it
Pushed through the crowd of skinny young kids
to find Gary half-sunk into a ratty leather couch, 
clutching a Rainier like his life depended on it. 
A young girl with gauzy wings handed me a tall boy 
and I cracked it gratefully, trying not to stare
at the copious amount of nubile flesh 
spilling from her outfit. She fluttered off 
and I asked, Where’s the music? Just as the carpet
began to shudder, the floorboards thumping
I’m gonna go down and watch, I said, and Gary 
hauled himself to his feet and followed me down 
the rickety cellar stairs.
The friends who had invited us had just started their set.
It was just the two of them molesting a pawn shop guitar
and whacking a Home Depot bucket while screaming in Spanish.
They were fantastic. The ceiling was low 
and there wasn’t much room to stand. 
We wedged ourselves behind the hot water heater
I dared Gary to touch a pipe and he did and pretended 
his hand was scalded. The band played all five of their songs 
then the crowd scattered and we went to get more drinks 
and the girl with the butterfly wings was there in the kitchen 
and we got to talking and she said she lived there
along with like six other kids and I asked, so why do you guys
call this place Love Boat? and she said she didn’t know,
it was called that when she moved in, and I asked, 
are you guys fans of the show, and she said, 
I have no idea what that is, because of course 
the television program had been off the air for ten years 
by the time she was born. 
Then we were swept back downstairs in the rush of bodies
for the second band, Rainbow Unicorn Apocalypse 
or something, I didn't see the butterfly girl or Gary,
just the mob, and three screaming girls in pants so tight 
they should explode, just fucking destroying their guitars,
tearing the veneer of irony to shreds, playing like the ship
was going down, because of course it was, and had been
for a long time, and I looked at my watch and realized 
I needed to catch the last bus back into town
and I ran upstairs to look for Gary, because I knew 
he needed to catch that same bus too, found him talking 
to an insanely sexy girl with a Mohawk
and I tugged his sleeve and pointed to my watch and he said oh shit
and chugged his beer and excused himself and we ran out through the dark,
babbling about how we felt so old, but Jesus 
those girls, and through some miracle we made the bus 
and flew through the night, not on the road any longer 
but hurtling through space, windows rattling,
recorded robot voice calling out the names of streets 
I’d never heard of as we zig zagged across this unfamiliar
section of town, these uncharted waters, 
standing on the bow of the ship straining our eyes 
for any sign of land out there in the dark.

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