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From the Winter, 2013 issue of The Antioch Review

Once Upon a Time in Monterey Hills

That summer of spaghetti westerns
it felt all right to be forty-seven:
nights on the terrace with a laptop,
some mosquito spray and bossa nova,
until a lifeguard broke through the walls
of cyberspace, became flesh,
smelling of hip hop, beach volleyball,
naïve, hungry,
body brown, rich with barrio.
He waited like a waif in Mother’s armchair,
waited to teach me,
pry me open to his teenage music:
Chuy Barajas
all lean, brown, glorious,
thirty-four minutes, maybe thirty-five,
the way his mouth eagerly took over,
fed me all the apathy of the world
before he shook my hand, shut the door.
A day went by
of just listening to a simple harmonica
and weeks and weeks
of a simple worthless tune.
Body brown, thirty-three minutes,
it shouldn’t be allowed, to vanish like that,
it shouldn’t be allowed,
the stiff bird I found one night
lying on the living room floor
folded-up, worthless.
A year and years, decades, a lifetime
of Sundays and big-box stores,
pop stars sneering from their billboards,
buses burdened with the numb and the dead.
Why do I try to book a flight to Martinique?
Why do I hand a hundred dollars to a homeless man?
Why do I spend nights roaming around a drugstore?
A store that sank to the seafloor years ago
with its load of musak and champagne.

***

AlexMFrankelAlex M. Frankel’s first full-length poetry collection, Birth Mother Mercy, was published by Lummox Press in November, 2013.  He also has a chapbook called My Father’s Lady, Wearing Black (Conflux Press). Besides poetry, he writes short stories, book reviews, and essays; recently his essay “Cycles of Rejection: An Elegy for My Four Parents,” appeared in the online journal Switchback. His website is www.alexmfrankel.com.

©2014 The Antioch Review

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