R.T. Castleberry

Low buzz sibilance of
voices from distant backyards
pulls me to the patio.
Dropping to a cane-back chair,
I cure the hangover taste of
cigars and Busch beer with
Cutwater margaritas, microwave tamales.
No Zoning in this quadrant, my place
overlooks green space squeezed between
industrial beige office parks,
faltering shops, roach coach regulars.
I wouldn’t mind some rain,
to slow the beat, the heat,
blast-white sun at two.
Shades on to cut the driveway glare,
I watch neighbor dogs roam,
owners wrestle and race after them.
Fence sparrows dart,
circling the confusion.
Green lizards skitter the breaks of
storm-scattered branches.
I feel like I’m driving with
two wheels in the gutter.
I’ll shower soon, change
from my overnight clothes.
There are pinto beans simmering,
ready for white rice, buttered rolls
subbing for cornbread.
Jimmy Reed is low from my cellphone,
slow-walking the blues.
Yeah man, I bought some insurance.
It’s not helping me today.

Draped in Union blue
I take a 12-month chip,
a copy of The Iceman Cometh,
cultivate a salesman’s grinning grip.
Miles registered in a company car,
a Valley trip lies ahead.
Spring becoming summer,
there’s a ghost in the garden,
a feral cat sensuous in the drying grass.
I light a Tiparillo,
block walk the gentrified greenery:
open lawn, fenced lawn,
high oaks arcing the boulevard.
Black dirt dust from a truck farm town
cakes a two-toned Chrysler.
The 5-column church is silent
this Thursday afternoon.
Doors are locked. I tip my hat
to the service schedule set
and framed in quarry marble.
A Hickey-Freeman summer weight coat
is thumbed over a shoulder.
There is no place left I seem to see.
Cigar ash flurries in the wind.
Tied with a 4-hand knot,
The Countess Mara silk stays tight.
An oil derrick figure on tie clip and cufflinks
mark ten years service.
Down a distant circular drive,
a lone boy pushes a bike.
He hops the seat, gains the pedals,
wings around the median.
I’ll bring a survey team
to this memory next week.

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