Sing, oh muse, of that night at Lonnie’s

(spared from the flood by the hand of God)

filled with Vandy girls, spray-tanned till tawny.

To the Stage, then Tootsie’s, and Robert’s just to catch my breath.

I saw Ophelia, whose temperance met an early death,

and parsimonious, underneath an awning

I gave her cigarettes, for alms, or calming.

The cops had cordoned lower Broad

and in an alley, within a block of Hooters

we were accused of being looters.

I ended up alone at Coco, later on,

with Graham Parsons on the tired speakers,

eating poutine with uneven hands

among my fellow drunks and the listless tweakers,

slouching and squinting at the dawn.

The rumor coming from the newsstand

was ‘Piranhas loose in Opryland.’

I placed another order: macchiato, jam, and toast,

and thought myself among the ranks and files of the dead.

Headlights in the half-light looked like the eyes of ghosts.

I called a cab, bussed my plate and trash

and remembering that I was short on cash,

opted to hoof it back to East Nashville instead.

When I reached the bridge, I turned my gaze

to the river, sated, underneath me.

I think that if it were the Lethe

I would tiptoe into the swell,

eating sugar cubes and asphodels.

I should have joined the volunteers these last few days,

and the shame was like venom, coursing through my chest.

(like a Pentecostal on a vision quest.)


I passed the Quonset huts and the Tyvek domes,

took a mental inventory, to see what I could spare.

I have a kitchen full of beer and kitsch,

a hallway lined with Hatch Show prints,

books on poker, Descartes, and car repair.

The walk felt long and when I got home

I bagged some sweatpants and a garden gnome.

The gesture being useless; I’m aware.