Nocturne, Lamar’s Chrystal Lounge
“Why court the brink & then step back?”
Up the astroturfed steps our sight to stars condenses to a vinyl portico, green, aglow with cursive Park in Rear— an offensive to the solid order of a city in the dark, but once inside we grope through the restaurant, booth-humped in shadow, & down the hall to a small lounge, crushed velvet on the walls in blackberry-colored chandeliers embossed on bronze, as oil lamps flicker between the two-seaters like pheromones. Sometimes I can do anything with an excuse. Half permission, half pardoning. The night I lost, one I’ll never lose. I can’t deepen the darkness behind my eyes, slow- dancing alone to Dinah, or hide in one of the busted up bathroom stalls. Here I’m made of words even if once I was made of matter & am now, somewhere else. Do you hear that song? That vibrato— a gin-burn laughed into the nose. I grind a thumbnail on the side of a quarter in my pocket as I lean into Gerald’s offered light, watching a life at the juke before it goes quiet.