You are one of those men who knows how to carry loneliness into the year’s butterfly garden. Into your thoughts about Six Persimmons. The brushed ink painting by the monk Muqi. If the woman who asked not to appear in your poems were with you, you would ask her why six persimmons, rather than seven. And which background color she preferred. Olive. Beige. A fog- veiled gauze. The evening settles on another humid day in July. Your coneflowers must be watered in the morning when a dozen plants will also need you to massage granules of Miracle-Gro into the soil. You savor the way the earth passes through your fingers as you stake dill stalks and turn them toward tomorrow’s sun. If the woman who asked not to appear in your poems were with you, you would offer her small yellow sunflowers, the modest prairie asters of Indiana. And tithonias surrounded by russet hummingbirds and the ghosts of monarchs. You would remind her of the sepia car she once admired in a photograph. A Rambler abandoned behind a filling station in what might have been your hometown. What if you could tell her how often you think about her landscapes of the narrow streets of European capitals? Shadows loitered in her ocher doorways, the gaunt absence of flowers.
This evening’s order of dim sum from General Tso’s Kitchen included a pair of fortune cookies. One read “What does the future hold?” And the other “It’s hard to imagine life before this.” I’d snookered le Pew into a road trip to Indiana, where he’s holed up in a Best Western auditioning sallow-faced men who wear Aloha shirts for the lead in a Beach Blanket Bingo revival. A Hollywood snipe hunt writ large. But Penelope left me on April 1st for a Vegas weekend with Quick Draw McGraw. Before she left, she said my job is to paint fake tunnels on cliff sides. To play a henchman without a godfather. That she likes how it feels to bet all her chips on red. Let it ride. Fortune cookies should offer more than placebo slogans from one of those Take-Over-the-World experiments tossed off by the lab Pinky and the Brain keep escaping from. I drive my vintage Road Runner through the blue streets, gulping forkfuls of coconut chicken at the stop lights and sneaking long pulls from a fifth of tequila distilled by Sammy Hagar, the rocker who struck pay dirt with “Why Can’t This Be Love.” Memories of Joshua tree blossoms and rattlesnake warnings corkscrew through my nose. It’s been a full-moon night all day. I make my living playing a fool in the desert. I’m the scavenger who never figured out how to seduce the muse.
Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Unbroken, Fatal Flaw, The Parliament Literary Journal, and Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan. Poems are forthcoming in Jasper’s Folly Poetry Journal and Syncopation Literary Journal.