Seth Abramson


Brianna throws on some
scruffy brown dungarees and grooves down
to the Pink Whale grocery to buy some milk.
We haven't been eating well -- gaunt,
disheveled with stale breath, I sway down
to the phone booth on the corner to order
a Moo Shi Pork and spare rib
delivery from the Panda Mart.

Two reefers on the bamboo table, pitiful,
we smoke them on the orange shag and laugh,
our eyes drooping with relaxation: blood-shot,
puffy, even while we were listening
to Arthur Lee spin his psychedelic spider-webs, or letting
the Incredible String Band send us off
in dreams through quiet woods sweating mist.
The dog recoils from Janzen, no surprise, the kid stumbles
in at all hours smelling of Indian,
hyperventilating inside a cruddy poncho.
We suffer him hits, adjust our wire-rimmed glasses and wait
for him to announce some party deep in the Haight --
we won't hear from him again for weeks.

The kids are cool, sure, but ridiculous; sometimes
the belly laughs erupt as some flower child
from Evansville quotes Donovan like Auden. We keep her
flying on saccharine tunes, place her in the corner
with Janzen and a phonograph, let him tell
his Christmas story about the West Side Laundromat
while she flips over Sagittarius and the Yellow Balloon.
Ten years from now she'll be hanging
someone's underwear on a clothesline and realize
her favorite songs were Columbia studio tricks tweaked
in some uptown buzz box. Fifty bucks
at the monthly producers' convention.
Maybe she'll light that cigarette up, flash
a faraway smile, and down another pot of coffee.

We slide through Thursdays; January we missed when Janzen
burst in, winded by a single flight of stairs, arms cradling
a plastic bag. First time I saw him cry;
he told me he was scared of cars. I laughed hard --
couldn't stop -- and later we watched
Beetles of every shade motoring towards
the corner and dissolving into rush hour.
The Airplane provided the soundtrack;
we all agreed Jesus was playing bass.

We awoke to organ music, a lilting voice
on the radio; we'd left it on, snoring.
Janzen twitched in his sleep, eyes scrunched up, lips
parched and mouthing, dreaming of sharing a joint
with his parents, no doubt. Brianna and Janzen and me;
the dog, with hair spilling over his eyes,
wrinkles his nose as Janzen tosses and turns, burrows
into my armpit with a whimper.
We're out of milk again -- but Syd's mumbling the second coming
on vinyl; I'm sure someone will be along soon.