4am Still Life


Walking in from the stale smoke
After hours part of the night
Stung by antiseptic fly buzz
Fluorescent light, thin as the coffee
Face as creased as shirt half untucked
Pork pie hat askew
Fag end ash dripping onto chipped Formica
Legs jackknifed beneath the counter,
Another late night wreck
Waiting on the sirens.

Peach polyester day glow dress
Plastic name tag drifting
Just beneath third shift wince smile
Aching back, dogs barking
“What’ll it be hon?”
Litany mumbled around loudly chewed gum
Sagging dish rag wrung out
Violent electric blue eyeshadow
Highlighting bruise dark bags
Carrying bills, three kids and deadbeats.

Blue plate nothing special
Everything wearing grease patina
Illusion of healthy gloss
Washed over still life desperation
Dregs and bottoms
Late night last rites car key cigarette lighter fumbling
All the pieces that float to the top
Commiserating in code
Bellies full of disappointments
Along with rot gut whiskey.

A hard luck story
For each busted down face
Weary slow jazz horn whining
Through hiss and pop radio crackle
Incidental music for accidents
Draped in cheap three piece
Salvation Army toe tagged suits
Rag tailed nighthawks
Perched all in a raggedy row
4am still life picture perfect
Rogues gallery disreputable characters
Heavy handed groping
Towards the crack of dawn.

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