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22. Featuring: Jack Henry (USA)

Including:

 

Joanne Ashcroft; St Helens, UK + Cristogianni Borsella; NY, USA + Chris Brownsword; Dronfield, Derbyshire, UK +  Cyndi Dawson; NJ, USA + Zoe Fiander; London, UK + Jesse Freeman; New Orleans, USA + Oritsegbemi E. Jakpa; Waterford, Ireland + Tom Noe; Indiana, USA +Joseph Veronneau; Vermont, USA

 

 

digging through ashes

 

1.

we met at gas station

off Interstate 5

just outside Modesto, California

on a day filled with heat, dust

and a wind that gave no quarter

in a relentless pursuit

of total annihilation -

 

out of gas, no cash

her smile stopped me mid-stride

and i said,

hello -

 

we bantered a bit

as i filled the tank

of a brokedown red Honda Civic

with premium unleaded gasoline -

 

2.

at 6 pm i found myself

at a truck stop

parked between SUVs

and Mini Vans -

 

footsteps crunched across gravel -

front door swings wide -

a waitress shaped like an inverted pomegranate

showed me to a table

up against the glass -

truckers in John Deere caps drank coffee

at the counter -

 

she walked by

suddenly

and i said,

hello

she slide in across from me

and asked my name -

 

3.

a short waitress with large feet

and simple features took our order -

 

4.

my name’s Christa,

she said

and ate her meal

without another word -

 

with the table cleared

we fell

into conversation -

 

usual topics -

- music

- love

- and sex

 

i paid the bill,

wished her good luck

stopped mid-stride

when she smiled at me -

 

5.

an old man at the counter

of the Easy Eight motel

looked at Christa

then at me

and took my cash without question -

 

we kept the room dark -

opened a new bottle of Jack Daniel’s -

turned the TV to the evening news -

 

6.

i asked her age -

she told me to guess -

i said nothing and took off my pants -

 

Christa took a hit straight

from the bottle

and i laughed -

 

7.

i crawled from my hiding deep

under thin bed sheets,

as my tongue traced circles

 

 

dope on a table

 

a friend offered me

that which i sought

semantics weighed heavy

but a knife cuts quick

 

what do i seek, i said

we already discussed this, she said

 i do not recall, i said

 

of course not

 

she cut four fat lines

methamphetamine

atop a beaten end table

early 70s garbage dump couture

 

you are not what i expected, she said

it’s your fault for having expectations, i said

 

she watched me inhale each line

without pause  or hesitation

i barely offered to share

i am sure i didn’t offer at all

 

she had addictions as well

not speed

not like me

not a tweaker

a gutter level addiction

without the heroin glamour

the crack head humor

prescription forgiveness

she never really explained

i didn’t ask

i didn’t care

she had dope on the table

what else could i need?

rumor has it there is a sun behind gray clouds,

up in a lazy sky, past rain that turns to snow -

 

with so much gray, so much cold,

and gardens filled with sleeping flowers,

promises of a sun become fairytale,

or something so distance

yearning fingers could never touch -

 

at the counter of a coffeeshop,

where i sometimes go,

old men talk about long gray days,

malignant black nights,

a cold that lingers to the cusp of summer’s eve

and trapezoids on her breasts -

she pushed my head down,

back past her stomach,

past a thin patch of soft hair -

 

you’re not done yet,

she said

 

8.

i stood at the window,

watched a highway

still buzzing with life

at three am -

steam poured from the bathroom,

fogging mirrors -

 

Christa walked to me,

wrapped her arms around my

thick body -

 

how old are you?

i said

 

i think you know,

she said

 

9.

windows down

her hair whipped by wind

Christa smiled at me -

 

i touched her skin

and said something stupid -

 

her hooded eyes

glared for a moment

but fell placid once again -

 

we passed an old red Honda Civic -

suddenly unwanted and forgotten -

everything she owned in the trunk

of my car -

with each tilt of an ocean

and a sudden sun that finally carves through

concrete walls, arriving unannounced,

unexpected, but always before dinner -

 

she sits at a table deep in the mire -

chains wrap tight -

locks clasp and rust shut -

a long thin key sits a fraction of a breath from

her hand -

with each tilt of an ocean,

2000 miles away -

the long thin key

tumbles closer -