august 9, 1999

my radio tells me the news, the weather, the sports, same as it tells everyone.
it tells me that today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the resignation
of richard nixon, which reminds me of my standing that resignation day
at the door to my girlfriend’s house, telling her mother it was a shame
to see a good man go down.

my girlfriend’s mother said nothing in response to that. i was sixteen.
young lovers, her daughter and i, our small world still cast in the clarity
of simple blacks and whites, just months before the changes would set in—
the unanticipated child, the long detour through the alleyways and cold-water flats
of this to toke, that to drop, the odd shot in the dark of a junkie’s heart.

i turn the radio off, my mind wandering through the silence to play
a remembering game as i get ready for work, reminding myself of twenty years ago
and my starting downtown a new job at a gay disco, during the days and nights of disco,
tight young pretty boys with fuck to spare and all the money we could steal,
all the liquor we could hold, all the fine, white powder
we could take in the intimate odor of. we were never going to die.

ten years ago, who could say? a man looking much like myself,
a magician who has crawled into a bottle—how did he get himself in there?
isn’t he afraid he may drown?

five years ago, my new lover showing up drunk in the wee hours.
she’d driven three hundred miles to phone me from the hot-sheets down the street.
baby, here i am—send me.

two years ago, losing my sixth job in seven months (the lover long gone).
one year ago, sobbing in the district attorney’s office while i confess to everything,
my crimes too petty for notice, i’m wasting his time.

one minute ago, turning the radio back on just in time to hear
a passing mention of nagasaki day. it’s nagasaki day.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

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