Strip Joint John

Ode to the piss and poetry
that litter these paint peeled walls.

The language of tile scum talking
its dirty dirt, and dark mysterious grout
gashing the straight slash
that underlines the scribbly smut.

The curly dark hairs like guitar-string
clippings laid out in hieroglyphic fashion
along with the black & brown bruises
that anguish an ancient bowl, and sink
the unsinkable sink.

The fracture of mirror, its vagueness
perpetuated by neglect, reflecting more
the filth it wears than the face it bares.

And the faucets, those tapity-tap taps
that dripity-drip drip with their barking
assault and marking of territory: Piss, rust,
weak & jaundice.

Let us bow to this delivery room,
this place of worship and redemption,
on our hands and knees; lets us pray
to the gods of acceptance and salvation,
and hold tightly the truth of our oneness
in this subterranean Hell.

For my friends, when all is said
and done (and often all is said & done)
we must stare down into that reflection
of loneliness and forfeit everything
we pretend to be true yet know to be false.

So together & alone lets grab
the crusted-black porcelain puppy
and rejoice in that familiar whirlpool; that big white
collection plate that’s seen every which way
this room can spin; that confession
booth with ears wide open
waiting for us to spill our guts.

‘Cause face it, boys & girls, in the end
we all could use a little forgiveness
from time to time, a little love
to keep us going is what I’m talking about.

Sing out loud, let your voice be heard, repeat
after me:

THIS IS THE REAL THING, MAN:
I AM HERE AND THIS IS NOW
AND ANYTHING OUTSIDE OF THIS
IS JUST WINDOW DRESSING FOR THAT.

Now say it twice…just in case.

And let me tell you, my friends, it matters, it all
matters, every bloody detail: this shitty poem
and the dirt under your fingernails;
the rotation of the earth & sun and the base beat
pounding from the dance floor above; and even
the stench of Boilermakers on your breath
and that damn cockroach
crawling up the inside of your pant leg.

Asamatteroffact, especially
that damn cockroach
crawling up the inside of your pant leg.

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