In October I went back.
The neon still flickered sickly under a glaze of dead insects and exhaust film.
Inside, boys in manufactured vintage and girls in labored metallic makeup
Slump and posture in practiced boredom over drinks I’ve never heard of.
My comrades in well vodka long since disappeared to neighborhoods without sidewalks in a resigned shimmer
Of dubious diamonds and procreation.
The jukebox is still playing REO Speedwagon but you can’t smoke anymore.
My shoes are too low and my pants are too high but at least my glasses are passable.
Although wearing black fools no one.
The smeared mirror behind the bottles blurs the lines but can’t soften the vacancy of everything else.
A boy loudly tweaking a fanaticism of a band we would have huffed and snickered at if we’d known
Has one untied sneaker tapping with no rhythm against the dirty footrest.
And he’s so pretty
And obviously stupid and densely searching for something he couldn’t possibly handle
On his stale plaid sheets.
A careful haircut whispering angst composed on a secondhand laptop and exhaustive self esteem training.
But so pretty.
And I stare and glare at him but have given up catching his smudged eyes.
I’d still take him home
And plead to the wall he wouldn’t talk or find me later with text speak and researched video game strategies.
Three top shelf vodkas have passed, and two slick cigarettes outside in the spitting snow and sheen of old vomit.
In October 20 years ago
All this would have broken my ego into a smile and hopeful resolve.
But this October undresses a burning ulcer and glass eyes and very little else.