the night was a sunken treasure chest 
and the moon was always late
horizon like an hourglass—twice stirred—
tipsy as a ship shaken in salt

and the room was sideways 
with a swinging light, walls like a 
green dream made of sand, 
a single, red bar and 
two magnums full of pencils
phonograph percolating like a
cheap buzz

i leaned in on a conversation
three gentlemen with gin-colored glasses
and a lady, extra-dry, going on about how
we’re all dots between the lines 
and the truth should always be 
written in crayon or scribbled with a 
three-pointed pencil *and the man with the 
rakish beard holds up the strangest looking 
writing utensil I’ve ever seen like some sort of 
majestic star*

i took a sip of my mule and 
leaned in a little closer 
on the starboard side
what i’m interested in, he went on, 
peering distinguished over a pair of 
tortoiseshell frames, is all of the 
hues of the metrics and the colors 
of the clusters and the outliers, the shades of 
the normal distributions, and the squiggles in the 
standard deviations, in addition to estimating each 
and every occurrence of the phrase, we’re not sure,
but if i were you, i’d be scared shitless, which is always 
very obviously a somber shade of burgundy

i figured he had to be a doctor or 
a scientist or some kind of
WebMD enthusiast, the way he gave his
heady dissertation—which is precisely why i 
invented this pencil! *thrusting it back 
into the air like some kind of three-headed trophy*

one point for every 
shade of the truth and 
everything else is lies
*woman leans forward, boozy-eyed,
and lets a string of pearls dangle 
between her breasts*
the truth needs to be told in broken
lines, he says, like a room full of arrows,
not in the blacks and the whites and the 
grays of the facts which always lead to 
somebody numbering somebody else the 
wrong color and tasting the tip of the 
truth with the wrong shade of music

the blues were ringing loud 
vibes a too-cool jam session
Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis
got lookin’ like this ship might be 
too far gone to turn around

we all paint our lives in a flat scene,
the man went on in a diatribe like a 
every step we take is walkin’ a plank 
on a ship full of dreams, a flight like a 
one-winged bird, stem like a 
paper flower, and it’s got no 
meaning unless you shade it
*waves pencil triumphantly*

the other two men tipped their
hats while the lady 
loosened her pearls 
in that green-eyed room full of smoke
but i started thinking that
drunken Merlin may have 
known what he was talking about
after all, so i grabbed myself a chair and 
bought him another gimlet

you gotta be the poet of everything (shaking that fist full of 
three-pointed pencils) the pure poem, the crystal vision, 
lives in every dimension, he says, and the 
truth looks different in each of them
the only thing you can be sure of is its reflection
just then, i swore i heard Stevie Nicks
singing “Enchanted” in the background

but i wasn’t sure if the man was speaking wisdom or
gibberish so i opted not to dance and
let the record play on
it’s the soul of the thing you gotta look for, 
and the only language it speaks is the senses
every poem is an 
unlawful meeting place
an eye that hears
an ear that whispers
and a sound that sees,
a bite of truth on 
the backside of the tongue 

and just like that, he 
handed me a pencil
and i felt the truth
abandon me at the mouth

A Word…

of thank you to my friend, artist, T. Blake, for the three additional images he’s contributed to Seven Road (for a total of five). This poem, stylistically similar to that one, was actually inspired by two of those images. The others, if you are interested in viewing them, represent the cover art for Part I, Part II, and Parts III-V, respectively. I have not yet decided how I want to showcase the entire poem, complete with artwork…or where. So, for now, the text will remain as is.

Here are the two images, created by T. Blake, that inspired “Speakeasy”:



30 thoughts on “Speakeasy

  1. One word, ‘Bloodybrilliant!’

    Was Eric singing,
    “Love is lovely. Let it flow.”

    And to think, without the prohibition imposed by the
    apparatus of Big State Religion,
    there would be no need for
    the Speakeasy.
    I guess all this do work,
    somehow, together. Like a
    multidimensional manifold
    pencil . . . Let it flow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, thank you very much! And you’re right. It all does seem to flow together, doesn’t it? Like a monster with many heads…or a pencil with many points. How interesting that I hadn’t had those particular thoughts, or parallels, in mind when I wrote; and yet, your insights have made me see something in my work that I hadn’t seen before. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

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