Friday, April 3, 2015

fever


the man with the fever face smiles through the fog, rubbing boot black on his
arm and striking to it a lit match.
he smiles and sniffs at the afterburn.
he says it reminds him of his old brick house,
his nose edging closer,
claiming it smells the way
his favorite sidewalk smells after a cold rain,
the beads of raining drops reflect the
stars and the moon under his eyes,
his night sky pouring out into the reflecting pools
beneath him.

don't beg for change facing east, he learned,
or use the pay phone on eighth,
every mother's child gets a busy signal there.

he knows his memory serves him, but he knows that memories are also lies,
 the happiness is only a shimmer,
fiction taking you by the hairdresser,
turning you around,
coming down hard
when you try to choose not to get out of bed.
he knows the face when he remembers his father is
really jimmy carter,
a ghost on a black and white emerson tv set he had when he was 5,
but he feels alright with a faceless father.

 the fever, he can feel,
 like rolling trains and thunder and his face is on the cold rail on the track.
he kisses with barricade teeth rows again and again, washing
down the steel with pouring tears, and cursing bygones and passer-bys for their empty pockets
and changeless names.
he says he knows the key to happiness is never in those memories.
he turns on bootless heel for his family and says his day of winning and loss is at hand
and changes his dollar bill for quarters at the laundromat.
he says they released the dogs hours ago, but he's been standing right here.
he says he had it figured out til now, he says it's all worth less when he's not standing in the rain.
he changes his mind, goes back for his change.
he says he can't shake it, the fever, he's shaking.
for 75 cents
or life.