Some took pictures with damaged
phones buildings flayed alive
collapsing away from the center
a pattern of worn dominoes hit by an angry child
You had to be quick of course, to see the photos
the cities that became place names overnight
a rescued laptop hooked to a generator with a minute
and a half of charge left
one minute on a rogue site
thirty seconds before the corporation shut it down
It’s not true we all died.
She met him right after.
her parents stayed dead in the back of the dank theater
she was too slow when the carts came by
Bring out Your Dead
tired of rat
she dressed in leg warmers and a top hat
picked her way to the Last Cafe in The City
Call me Sam
he huddled over a beer
smoked his last. Alone?
Worried about the Goblins?
It was always so dark in the alley behind the theater
where her mother worked.
how that hard light
penetrated deep between the V
of black vertiginous buildings
the flash of white puncturing the small TV
Children stopped chanting
the terror gangs stopped shooting
didn’t want to do the other side any favors
She knew she couldn’t stay another day
Sam finished his beer. How old?
shit, thought you were 18
they all want me to be 18
we do he agreed.
pointing to the pictures on the plastic menu
California, he announced to the empty dishes
Sam unfolded a complex origami project
riddled with a spaghetti toss of roads
maps for back when we drove forever
cars blackened the country
like buffalo –
It will take a few seasons, he cautioned
Swimming Pools, Movie Stars
South is faster, you sure?
she knew about seasons – swimsuit season, flu season
He scooped up a computer, three loaves of hard bread
and the girl: top hat, leg warmers and a pink tutu
Once they cleared the domino buildings
the sun, a basketball orange suspended mid-dribble
on an intractable asphalt sky
motioned them to follow its everyday death
They encountered travelers
Taking just what they could hold
they escaped the quickest
all unaware a move to the west
was the better opening gambit in a new game
She told Sam stories
filling the silent trudging
towards the flaming sun
how she felt trapped between buildings
daylight squeezed into switch blades of light
the Goblins yelling from shadows
back and forth, trading persimmon for apples
Buy buy buy
Don’t be afraid her mother ordered
but don’t taste
hand size strawberries
head size cantaloupes
Buy buy buy
– mother lurching on
fantastically high platform boots
swayed from booth to booth
an uncertain tulip
the stalk too weak to support the head
Buy buy buy
stall screens looped colorful stories
tiny children held
gigantic strawberries – grapes – bananas
it’s all good, grinned the Goblins
Organic. Natural. Certified.
No, no we will find the cans.
mother dragged the girl from the fruit
we’ll find our meal already chopped
into swallow size chunks
they pushed the cans home
in broke wheel carts
staggering over the streets
now the metal carts are filled with bodies
Bring out Your Dead.
did they eat the fruit, the dead?
by the time she knew, it didn’t matter
the Goblin market had disappeared
Blast Away Fat
mother read articles as stories
her arms were held together
by knobs of bone
the camera adds ten pounds;
she tapped at the cover of Glamour
the girl wondered if mother would look better
if a camera rose between them
Burnt out days. Sam muttered
give it enough time
and the poets are always right.
This is one of eight chapters of Drinks @ the Last Cafe.
You can get a complimentary copy of the entire poem by leaving a helpful review for my new book, Deep Trouble
or for After I’m Buried Alive.
Notify me when you’ve posted the review – cbramkamp (at) gmail (dot) com and I will send you the ebook version along with my sincere thanks.