Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Note He Left Suzie the Bartender, Who Never Answered by Michael Dwayne Smith

I am inconspicuous, doing this or that, a la nineteenth century
footman, a first-rate improv cook, plus can rescue you, not me,

from life-threatening mistakes: cases are documented, debts
are owed, strings tighten. Used to be best I could do was crack

a joke: lost job after job, one boss punched me out
his wife 
had run off, so I absolved himbut then it was me, married, 

humor drained like brake fluid, grim at the prospect of sobriety,
every grimy fuck high-speed collision screams for jaws of life.

Had to grit teeth when she’d speak, grinding gears of her sub-
compact mind, me poisoned by red weed and whiskey fevers,

demonic addict to secretary, receptionist, waitress, brass zipper
a down elevator, nonstop, choke-slammed into cold concrete

basement bottom, my wire-slim mouth tonguing handcuffs
in weekend jail cells. But now! Look at how perfectly my lips

clean up your mess while making my own, how these hands
pick up your trash, feed it to my heart, how my fingers hold

a knife that slices the drowsy apple I’ll feed to you, Princess.

Michael Dwayne Smith haunts many literary houses, including Gargoyle, Third Wednesday, The Cortland Review, New World Writing, Chiron Review, Monkeybicycle, and Heavy Feather Review. Author of four books, recipient of the Hinderaker Prize for poetry, the Polonsky Prize for fiction, and a multiple-time Pushcart Prize/Best of the Net nominee, he lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his family and rescued horses.