Nocturne, Lamar’s Chrystal Lounge
“Why court the brink & then step back?”
—Lynda Hull

            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.
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