Another Two Minutes Makes No Difference
Leon, beer sotted, stumbles out of
Meadow Muffins Amber Emporium
and into the slap-him-right-upside-the-face sleet.
He zigzags into the alley behind the building
misdirected away from home by the raging storm,
the frigid blows to the face, his rancid need to throw up.
His vomit splatters some worn boot tread and heals.
Boots attached to blue jean covered legs.
Legs that run up under a dirty red hoody sweatshirt
to a head face down on the discolored asphalt alley.
After Leon wipes his mouth on his coat sleeve,
adrenaline wipes some of the blur out of his brain.
He knows dead weight when he pulls it upward,
lifts a pruned face out of a quarter-inch puddle.
The drip, drip, drip of water from the leaky gutters
plays its own variation of taps.
Leon returns the head to the soggy pavement.
Vacant faces snake-tail rattle him to heebie-jeebies.
He heads back inside, takes his seventh favorite bar stool,
orders a pint from Marjorie, the forever young,
dispenser of liquid delight and cerebral nullification serums
to fortify his index digit control center
before punching nine-one-one on his cell phone.
Leon drinks to excess when other people pay,
and not quite to excess when it depletes his wallet.
He drinks because of a prophetic dream
that shows a bullet passing out the back of his head
with all the gore one would expect
on such an occasion.
The dream first showed up in his brain
back in his college days
when Leon escorted through the clinic lines
women who made their choice abortion.
The dream replays itself with slight variations and subtle clues
every night he attends slam poetry held a bars friendly to LGBTs
or art openings by people who populate the fringe
or experimental theatre or jazz music venues.
Leon thinks regularly about moving to another city,
but figures prophetic dreams cannot be escaped by moving,
so he bravely attends his cubical each day
and operates his computer software with practiced expertise.
Leon drinks all the more with every TV special report
about the latest mass shooting in the United States.
He hand writes letters to his congressman and senator daily
urging them to enact gun control.
He tells his bartender not to place an orange garnish
on his Blue Moon Belgian White Ale.
Leon pours an oatmeal stout on his Rice Krispies
as the Orlando news plasters his Sunday morning television.
A corner of Leon’s brain suggests he deal with this stress
by becoming a sex addict instead of an alcoholic,
but he fears that would lead to AIDs
and the bullet that kills him would be from his own hand.
After being gut stabbed
I fish-out-of-water flopped around,
eyeballs nearly popped out of my bewilderment
at this, seemingly, arbitrary violence.
The guy just stood there,
rooted on my divot digging thrashing,
his cell phone held up, camera like,
live streaming my agony.
As my motions ceased
except for my heaving breath,
I felt all five o’clock news lead
and PBS in-depth segment.
As the crowd gathered
more cell phones recorded details—
one guy pulled back the lacerated skin
and spread the oozing tissue to measure the penetration.
A local woman brought me name brand chicken soup,
propped me up, and spoon fed me,
but the broth leaked out the wound
to mix with the blood and green slime
already soaking into my jeans.
Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne. His latest collection of poems is Stump Speech. To learn more about him visit kpgurney.me.