Film Noir at Gallop Park, On the Edge

Film Noir at Gallop Park, On the Edge


of suburbia in flux behind one of the town’s, count ’em, two
mega high schools. The sometimes-tended-to nature preserve
where green & green slide crisp between brisk handshakes,
where a middle-aged Jimmy John’s driver suddenly halts
his ’98 Corolla, goes noiseless. Where the sun isn’t exactly
booming, but it’s Sunday morning & I’m in my feelings,
so I clop off a few paces, nice & easy-like. I mouth hello
to the loveable maintenance man. Hello,
loveable maintenance man I nod. He fusses with his
mustache, flicks it out in a full tilt wave. In the way
of mise-en-scène, I feel compelled to say it’s 2014.
I’m a black, American poet, newly thirty & middle class
for the Midwest. So far it’s the summer of two brothers
unarmed, erased, posterized. Two more & I live
my best days outside like this, under threat
of rain: me, my bad form & no one looking on
with the evil anvil of a hoisted eyebrow. The deceptive flip
of an A-line bob—hand readied to protect the old money
maker. Accordingly, smoke: a slinky Asian teen
makes his body into a nickel, wheels up the wide alley
between me & the trail’s opposite edge. Our shades, night-
slick, reflect one another—different frames
from about the same shelf. I catch myself for an instant
in his left lens & wonder was it the Rocky-look
I’m rocking? Was it the bare bones, bone-white, hooded
Egyptian cotton track suit drawn tight around my head
like a swim cap? (It’s summer here.) Or the ox calves
teetering a chest somewhere between barrel & breasted,
depending on the wind, the Taylor Swift–red grin
of my diabolical office nemesis, or the moon
cycle, maybe anything? Fin—
In the director’s cut I’m the one being fatally
femme: I pretend to check my face in the rearview mirror,
pull a plume from a pinner & squeeze the trigger
on a can of lavender Febreze. I chase myself out the window
smarting every time someone flinches at the sight of me.
Metaphorically, I could only be the pitch dark
asphalt simmering in this parking lot. The fog lifting off
a black tar river, already gone. Though obviously, given
the opportunity, nay the luck—I’d play delivery boy,
even maintenance dude. Anything but walking dead
man. & I’ll be damned if I didn’t just run
all this way to tell you that. Fuck.

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