Bill Manson 11:30 a.m., Sept. 19
- Gleah Powers: "My dead relatives have rolled out of their graves this afternoon...." (from "Drinking at Mabel Murphy's")
Methane Snow, Drinking at Mabel Murphy's, There Wasn't a Wing in the Sky
Is that a switchblade on the bar?
- The scent of my father, the smoke from his cigarettes
- embedded in the leather band of his Timex watch,
- the smell of morphine and cancer as he died
- at the Soldiers and Sailors home in Quincy, Illinois.
- I was thinking of the soul.
- That methane star snowflake
- pelting down from the cosmos,
- landing in Chicago on a muggy day in June.
Drinking at Mabel Murphy’s
- My dead relatives have rolled out of their graves
- this afternoon, to sit at Mabel Murphy’s bar in Scottsdale,
- where I mix drinks wearing western pants, a purple shirt
- with snaps down the front and a cheap cowboy hat.
- Straight shots of Ancient Age for Ida and Buddy
- Vodka Gimlets for Gail, rum and coke for Kay
- Still a full blown hoodlum. Is that a switchblade on the bar?
- This is not the right job for the granddaughter
- of a 33rd degree Mason from Chicago, cremated
- in a ceremonial apron, black tasseled red hat,
- sickle and hammer ring. Where is Milton anyway?
- Aunt Clara wears an early 20th century church hat
- fastened to her head with bobby pins.
- “I’ll have a Virgin Mary,” she says.
- The tall ghosts of the Smith family are the most forgiving.
- Aunt Marge, her husband Monk, Royal Sr. and Marie.
- Christian Scientists all. My father Buddy is at the end of the bar,
- slumped down humming post war love songs, hoping I don’t recognize him.
- His legs dangle out onto the parquet dance floor, cigarette ashes
- caught in the creases of his black pants.
- “You should have been around,” I say. He writes on a napkin,
- pushes it across the bar with his long bony fingers
- “I made some bad choices.”
- It’s seven o’clock. They’re getting noisy, telling tales,
- arguing about the way it really was and who did what
- to who. “Whom,” says Gail. “Another round,” says Ida
- As a slivered moon rises over Camelback mountain.
There Wasn’t a Wing in the Sky
- Black tree limbs crusted with ice. Inside, we breathed into our scapulas,
- unfreezing them from twelve hours at the computer. Ripples of fluid
- began to move through our backs. Our arms grew longer, lighter, dropping
- out of hunched up necks. Our heads turned freely like lighted globes
- from childhood, traveling the spaces between continents. We didn’t mean
- to entice them back, but there they were at the window, four bony bluebirds
- with rusty colored throats, balancing on a tree branch, their feet making
- indentations in the ice. Maybe they were injured, couldn’t make
- their usual trip, faced a winter downtown in the raft of a warm building.
- Pecking at the window in some kind of coded message, they watched, amused.