Evidence of Life

Bill Weaver drove 40 miles before stopping

roadside.

He couldn’t remember pulling out the gas nozzle at the Sunoco.

 

After a fill up,

he’d normally shake the nozzle off like a dick at a urinal

but this time he had no memory of it.

 

It was hanging out the gas tank

forty fuckin miles

and no one said boo

or flashed their lights to flag him down.

 

Bill brought it into the bar,

stage prop for the night,

and drank coca cola

while the men laughed and told his story

to any patron looking to listen.

 

They had the evidence

for those who needed to see.

the relic

Atop the five-story firepole sat a fireman

in a puddle

of his own flab,

moustaches flowing

like tarnished silver

entrails spilling along his gut

entangling

the brass buttons that creaked

under his strain.

This old fireman

filled his post,

completely.

He was sworn

to sit and warn

the children who feverish

streamed past

that the firepole was

CLOSED!

(it was just for show),

a dubious device

from a frightening past,

this firepole,

rusted from being

often forgotten

and bent from seeing

one too many mock it.

The young,

the Youth!

they wanted to ride!

because the aim of life

they knew (but would soon forget)

wasn’t to survive.

they didn’t mind

how rough or how frightening

as long as they gave it a go

as long as they tried.

but the fireman lounging would blow

a whistle,

hoist a meaty hand,

and mounting all his heft and humor

would devilishly command:

Ho!  Halt there, stand back my son!

Have pride in the relic, yes.

But you must never, ever have fun!

it breathes

it breathes

to remind me

that it is also at the table

buttering its bread

coming in as women

coming in as car payments

coming in as pensions

coming sure as a long cigarette smolders

cutting into the soft meat

CLINK, CLINK

and Pepsi hissing in a red cup

disintegrating the ice

disintegrating the lives

into the earth like

a heap of flattened cardboard boxes

left out for a hundred thousand

hard rains.