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The Drunk Singer (II)

ISSUE:  Spring 2002

Later now, in the year and in her voice,
with her band all occupied in boxing up
their dismal instruments, the sorry woods
and worn-out brasses that kept them so absorbed
three sets into the night, so she works on
her rum and Diet-Coke and pages through
the wind-swept Fake Book of her mind, as if
she still could fit the moment to its song
with such a pitchy voice, the strain of trying
to fill an empty house at closing time
bending each note a little off the mark,
while she wonders if she’s Crazy, for being
so blue, and just How Blue Can You Get, before
deciding either Too Blue or Almost Blue.

And on the fogged-in highway home, the man
who’s had too much is listening to the noise
of noise, the wheels-on-wet-sand sound of stations
missed, and finding that his teeth aren’t sharp enough
to scrape off his tongue the taste of corn and wheat
wrung through the digestion of some Tennessee
distillery, as he moves deeper into the in-between,
this patch of low-lying November weather, and worries
at his radio, pushing all the little silver knobs
again and again and again, each effort corrected
immediately by the next, the same, mistake,
the same grains of static released at every point,
until he shuts the whole thing off and hears
nothing, in its diminished form, continuing.


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