Stephen Gardner

Itís a short shot down the highway to Lavernís,
where the music is smoky and the air is worse.
Behind us, reading the stickers on my bumper, 
Alice leans onto the porch rail and swallows
what little pride Iíve left her. The small
space between her knuckles really wonít miss
the cheap gold, I tell myself, like I
tell you what you want to hear: the music
is a pulse that waits for us, and we will
dance tonight. I guess you believe my heartbeat
is certain as the backmanís drumbeat. 

Well give me this: I donít lie to myself
the same as to others. Look, the bass line
is going down, and the floorís cleared out
for us. Letís take a chance that this is right
and Iíll guarantee that everyone will clear back
and ring a circle and we can two-step and dip
until the singer croaks and their hands 
are bloody from clapping, like we are tied
off and waiting for the hit that will send us
spinning to somewhere we can look into the rearview
from and Alice is tightening her eyes into the dust
and we wonít think she sees anything, anything
at all that we have a rock-starís care about.
I do care about you, see, but itís getting late.

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