Note: Written in March 2013; revised slightly.

“Why does this car look like a dark bedroom
in college?” yowls the denim man
clad in boots, a cowboy in the rain.
His gal, a fishnet prize, raises a finger
to shush his lips, aching of gin and pizza.

He’s right. The F train’s bulbs have gone in spots.
A shadow umbrella keeps the rider dry
from peeking too close at dimples,
moles and hair sprouts. It’s Reagan Hall
dorm 224 again — without the blondes
that made it fun. Without the contraband
in drawers. Without the half-moon window view
that once allowed a gaze to trees
in traffic circles and snow.

Midnight and crushed rain upon your coat
are all you own. Recall the fierce catches
in tavern smoke, the vinegar, the scrapes.
It’s all stretched miles from here,
gone like a dust of snow by morning.

You scan all faces always for a sliver
of remembrance, a flame to light your
memory halls. Your neck bounces as steel
rail hits sharp like dangling ice
and the morning seems a promise, for once.
Drink the moment deep as memory.
Swig from now and swallow with a chase.

It’s like drifting to sleep on a wood bench
in the quad, candy April sunsets

offering their sugar. Or a quick rain
of sparrow tweeps overhead as you lie there,

dreaming outside the roof window.
Like the orange shadow of a campus lamplight

sweeping in closer, swallowing the oaks
and thick grass, devouring the evening.

It’s all of this when you get it right
and worse than blind deafness when you whiff.

“This song’s about some wine and some virginity…
in the dorms,” the bearded songwriter slurs
into the mic at the live summer broadcast.
You cackle too, knowing those pangs as gospel
since the first college weeks when you stumbled
from brick house to vodka-bottle double-suite
in search of — God, what was it? Company
or origin story for friends? It happened anyway
as clumsy as you’d imagined, hope leaking out
of wobbly rubber, faces red, pants zipped
quickly and shoes shoved on, still untied.
The quad between the buildings like an ocean,
and the goodbye misplaced as a moonless night.
A year later, a goon at the window
and scared to dive back in, panic and drought
a new middle name. Two more, a weekly occurrence
when she’s round, which isn’t always, but when she is,
was like a goddamn hurricane. More goons now
at windowsills across the USA,
spraying guts in text messages and chats
and hoping, praying to their horny gods.
This song’s about some cheap wine at the cornershop
and yeah maybe virginity, if you’ve still got it.
If not, it’s about laughing like a jackal
in the slow sands down continents away,
marveling at the kill. Hungering. Feasting.

A weekend is a freckle on a cheek,

a constellation down the nose, a waterfall

of hair straight down the back. An itch that won’t

quit. A sleep outside on porches and

rank docks with fatherly stars kissing goodnight.

A power outage in the raging heat.

Three years that zip marauding as dark droogs

past memory and fond recollection

to steal. The bottle prices up a dollar,

the music cringeworthy, the faucet leaking

scents you’ll never shake – the twist of heartbreak

in a daze of teenage mock heroics.

I’d drink the lot again and balk at consequence

the way time permits for a mere freckle.

 

What was that dream in the state park soaked in snow

when the young fawns blinked hello and receded?

You’re in the old Ford again, Curly at wheel

and the other two sighing alphabet games to occupy.

Age 18 or some near variation.

Trotting miles from campus to smell the pines

and listening to learn, to grow — before you knew everything.

 

What is has melted like fields of blue winter

where old deer shrug and drop at hidden barrels.

You’re at the shop again, Ponytail at register

and the fellow clerks hawking pots to pay the rent.

Cold 22 with some lump in your throat.

Sneezing rarely so to hide a bit more self,

and thundering to flee, to find — before your ice dissolves.