Old Haunts of Uptown
The opium dens were where the overpass is now,
the cranks still go there though to take their opiates
and breath heavily in tents or Chevy Blazers
out of the big fat Mississippi rain
with the engine idling but no one behind the wheel.
There is still one old pagoda hotel crumbling up in the air
like a molting lotus flower
with a Saigon roof beckoning a side of my soul
from before this life to come in, lay in pillows, and blissfully
destroy my mind.
There was a painting of a mask on the grave of dead friends of mine,
who put it there I don’t know.
How I found my way back to rue Marseille number one,
folks call it Washington now,
with only whispers to guide me, and a face peaking out
from a raised grave to giggle and dart away;
I recognized the laugh but her name escapes me.
It’s tightening the air molecules today.
Things get frozen in my beard.
Drunk friends tell me things about the Indian wars, we all miss the Indians
we say, maybe we are the Indians, we certainly are not kings.
We drink up high, we drink down low,
we see how many stories about ancient aliens
we can remember in street lamps reflecting off the snow.
These are our days now, some different, most aligned,
like blown out stars
that have long since died.
Time is now, but yesterday as well,
I’m alive today like I was in the future at the toll of the bell.
Dancing and dancing the lights made out of memories
flicker and fade and reflect back into a million new moves
choreographs, cartographic, and smiling glow-in-the-dark skulls
if you look at the picture right
while you push your things higher into the attic
because there is a room up there, with a little keyhole,
that you’ve never seen before but there is neon swelling
under the crack and I can hear bare feet,
I can smell butterscotch, maybe cloves, maybe nutmeg
dancing and dancing the nights made out of hieroglyphics in spray paint.
These are my stories, simply ghosts I haven’t caught yet.