In a single bed,
suspended above a street called Moody,
two bodies lie pressed and motionless.
with wings of strong shoulders,
hovering in dreams of one another.
The line between them
crooked and interdependent
like the border—
Charlie Parker the soundtrack
to their gentle accord.
on lips untrampled by conversation,
are spoken through skin.
A passing train
turns the pages of his R.E.M.—
<<Écoutez-moi! Écoutez-moi, bien! Quelquefois, je rêve en francais!>>
And I reply, in a language unfamiliar,
“Ti Jean, tu peux me tutoyer. Tu peux me tutoyer.”
muttering of Mingus, Parker, and Miles Davis
and I interrupt to say,
“Everything I do is scrawled between bass and treble clefs—”
But with thick fingers accustomed to holding strong cigarettes,
he touches my face
in a way
that feels like—
And now I look for you,
from Bourbon Street to Broadway,
knowing full well that
“chances are slendah”
that I will ever find you again
between the yellow lines
on the road.
- For Jack
“Fight or flight,”
according to Census officials,
“is a typical response
to a childhood spent in a small town.”
Wearing my rollerskates in the car
sometimes makes it hard to drive,
it’s just something I have to do
to prove to myself that I am still alive.
Thunderstorms, at four in the Memphis morning,
beat the horizon in sheets of rain like whisky
from a Tennessee Williams’ sky—
God, the things I think about when you’re not around…
Crossed another time zone listening to a band named
play songs like broken records,
Screamed with Duran Duran over the Rio Grande,
and pulled off the road in Mesa
for some nicotine and
Skated into the 7-Eleven right past Carole King
at the checkout counter.
She had a far-away look in her eye,
a forty-ounce in her hands,
and I knew she was thinking about you.
I believe that my natural state is silence,
but your answering machine talks, and talks, and talks
when you’re not there because
I can’t shut up—
I’m as lonely as Saskatchewan and I’ve got you on my mind.
I ache to hear your voice at night,
but fall asleep with the phone wondering who will keep me warm
when I feel winter in the California sun.
Speeding towards a city full of fugitives,
Hypnotized by the sound of tunnels,
Your voice fills the uncharted air with “What did I do?”
and “Why did you go?”
Now I’m looking for answers
in my fortune cookie,
Losing my shit in diners,
people aren’t always
the way you
Michael Allen Potter, author of The Last Invisible Continent (Kartografisk Utgaver, 2014), is a poet, playwright, editor, and essayist who holds degrees in English and creative writing from Union College (New York), San Francisco State University, and The University of Iowa. His work has been published widely in journals and anthologies in the US, the UK, and in Canada and he has taught creative nonfiction at Union College, The University of Iowa, and at The Just Buffalo Literary Center.