Lorette C. Luzajic, HOOD returns, with vengeance 

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Gales Gas Bar 

August will always

taste like hash and petroleum,

and it sounds like Guns ‘n’ Roses.

In those endless days,

the asphalt soaked up the sun

and spat it back out.

 

The gas station, it was the empire of my youth.

And it was a man’s world then,

and that is why I loved it,

all pizza and Playboy,

guitar practice, Camels, Toronto Sun.

The farmers tipped me

with baskets of sticky peaches,

and I could spend my shifts flirting with

mullet boys in Mustangs and

mirrored sunglasses.

 

I watched how headlights sluiced the falling darkness,

how night rose over the orchards,

how the concrete lot broke up the

vineyards on either side of forever.

 

And how the neon sign

kept blinking,

yellow, red,

alone for miles.

It was an Ed Hopper painting,

those gasoline summers,

tripped out on stars.

 

 

True Story

 

and then one day I got up

and went directly to the tall corner shelf and

began tearing everything apart

ripping up all I had once alphabetized

so lovingly.

 

all those thin volumes, at least a thousand,

books made possible by Canada Council and chardonnay,

by people who are now my friends.

 

I couldn’t stand the weight

of all those words,

the myopic indulgence of confession and reflection

I couldn’t bear the wasted space

on every page.

 

when it was over, this madness

this bitter wrestling that

every writer must

with meaning and its absence,

I sat amidst those ruins liberated, dry eyed.

 

like some kinds of grief,

I wouldn’t cry for a long time

about what I had done.

 

there was nowhere

to go but through-

I would have to begin again,

without props

with nothing but empty shelves

and my fear of the blank page.
 

The Broken World

 

Now that you have come

to sort things out,

I am more

confused than ever.

All hell

breaks loose

in midnight

 

and it’s been years since

I heard midnight

knocking at my door-
I’ve made my life

so tidy

squished it crammed it stuffed it

with law and order.

I intended to keep

the crashing winds at bay,

as if lists and yoga, or sorted silverware,

could possibly protect me

from the gods of the sea.

 

I never know

if the roads

will bring you home, and

today

the miles

are written in your eyes,

the things you’ve seen,

the things you’ve tried to hide,

and you are wearing the sun

and the rain and the road

and the endless

prairie skies.

 

(If you can give it, I can take it

‘Cause if this heart is gonna break

 it’s gonna take a lot to break it.)

 

(I’m broken like a promise,

shattered like a dream.)

 

You are a storm that blows through here

galloping wild horses,

part human,

but something else, 

something wilder, unrestrained.
It doesn’t matter:

every time you

break my heart,

I will grow another one

for you to smash

and treasure the hours

in which

it falls apart,

just to have something from you.

 

I can’t stop you

from climbing across my roof

and into my window

if you need to get to me.

Otherwise,

I don’t even know if

you are dead or alive.

Now, the great unknown, again.

You disappear

as you arrive,

without words,

without reason.

 

Do you remember? 

Once you said, you would do anything for me,

anything at all,

you’d walk 1000 miles for me, you said,

and the ferocity of your conviction took me aback,

how love blazed in your eyes,

for me.

 

It was a promise you kept,

arriving from the east

like rain on my roof.
But I had said, no, don’t you remember?

I don’t want it, I told you.

I won’t ask that.

You know all I’ll ever ask of you

 

 

is to put

your pipe down

 

 

for me.

Leave it down

I beg you,

leave it down.

 

I will never, ever

ask another thing.

 

 

Now as ever, your company is easy,

and holding you

is comfortable, familiar sorrow.

You ask about my work,

and about my meetings.

And whether I’ve found anyone.

My fingertips trail your scars,

fading rope at your throat,

feathers on your wrists.
Now, as if there were

no years between us,

and no grief,

we sprawl across the floor with

Johnny Cash on repeat, and it’s

an apt soundtrack for all that we have seen,

for the people we have been.

 

And yours is a lonely road,

my most beloved friend,

but you’ve never questioned why I keep

your heart with me as best I can.

Even so, I told you.

It was how tenderly you tended to

my injuries, how you

tried to save me.

 

The air here is filmy and surreal,

emptied of you,

soapy and edged with grief.

I can’t fix

the broken world.

It is you who could,

you who fixed my sink and my bicycle

when you hitchhiked into town.
It’s only 2000 miles,

you said,

repacking your backpack.

I’m clean now, woman,

I’ll make it west, don’t worry.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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