The things they said about you
would make a priest’s dick hard.
The raised eyebrows, the
“you should have been there” grins,
the cheap shrugs for cheap talk.
You loved the Isley Brothers
I remember that
and shooting pool
’til the wee hours of the morn
and quoting James Joyce—Ulysses
knocked you out,
and our only date
on a sunny Florida afternoon
for hot dogs and beer
at the Lum’s on Dale Mabry.
You said you liked me
and that was more
than you could say
for most young men.
You said you didn’t care
what they said—the cheap talk.
You didn’t care if they liked you
But it was easy to see the anger—
like a tidal wave
roiling beneath the surface.
Fritz the rich jock
with the schoolboy charm
loved to tell of the time
he sat on the toilet seat
Your tapered tongue darted out.
you stared up at him
as you drew out the tiniest drop.
I fucking made it
I could smell the sweat when he walked
on stage, made his way
from the side door of the Roxy, passed by
Billybob, Chip and me with the current
ladies in our lives. He sang those ageless
melodies. When applause settled,
and picked up again, he ended with a favorite—
The Ghosts of Saturday Night.
A few days earlier, in front of the marquee
I saw him dancing around, smiling—
In the opening scene
an elderly woman
lies on a bed;
her head rests
in a nest of yellow and white petals,
I hit playback
to the last time I saw ma mère
in a sterile room
on a shiny table,
legs and face puffy,
skin translucent in fluorescent light.
She died fifteen hundred miles
from where I woke.
I traveled as fast
as common carrier would allow,
but I was too late.
No flower petals or clasped hands,
just an old woman
on a slab of slick metal
in a pale blue johnny
prepped for what’s to come.
Marc Swan’s latest collection, all it would take, was published in May 2020
by tall-lighthouse https://tall-lighthouse.co.uk/marc-swan/. Poems recently published
in Gargoyle, The Broadkill Review, Channel Magazine, among others. He lives in
coastal Maine with his wife Dd.