Each of them has his own room, here, his own cardboard pallet,
drawer. A mirror above a row of pipes reflects disorder’s emptiness.
Ideal Music, the shop next door, has electricity.
Sometimes late at night they can get inside, turn on lights, play records.
Once in a fit of drunken nostalgia for childhood,
for bottomless night and stars, Reggie busted out
a window over the enclosed alley between stores,
while Goose, weeping in Spanish for the cuts on Reggie’s hands,
leaned against the rain-soaked wall eaten with black mold,
a man in love. He pisses into empty beer bottles, sets
his good boots in a corner, still brushes his teeth. For him, their abandoned beauty
shop is World Navel, Jerusalem, their threesome a Sartre play – book
she’s never read – and the rooms are drawers. His mother lay him down
to sleep in a drawer, he’d told her once.
When she was a little girl she imagined a found life in household drawers,
their low ceilings, landscapes within them shut. She conquers her fear,
now, by opening, emptying. Reggie and Goose make cushions
from the contents: shreds of wallpaper, palm- size flecks of lead paint, leaking color bottles,
Styrofoam crusted with dried Chinese take-out, clothes or a lone shoe
discovered in the streets and carried back. On rainy nights they rip up these beds
for toilet paper, or shit out that broken window. Reggie’s vomit
stinks and then dries like a jack-less
telephone. These are toxins of particularity, poisons within the self.
Beyond these walls, it’s a nightmare staying alive, toxins of survival.
Goose is next door playing records. Music leaches through the walls:
Partridge Family’s Greatest Hits, Jerusalem of Gold.
MIRIAM C. JACOBS is a alumnus of the University of Chicago and teaches college writing, literature and humanities. Jacobs is the editor of Eyedrum Periodically, the art/literature journal of Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery, Atlanta. Her poetry has appeared in Jewish Literary Journal, The East Coast Literary Review, Record Magazine, The Camel Saloon, Bluestem: the Art and Literary Journal of Eastern Illinois University, The King’s English, and Oklahoma Today, among other publications. Her chapbook of poetry, The Naked Prince, was published by Fort!/Da? Books in September 2013.