A Perfect E Flat
Barry Graham

—for Drew Kalbach

Just take a few steps into the tunnel and wait for the beep. I keep growing older but the alarm continues to sound like a rook sliding into check. Salt is the spice of life, but lawns are kept manicured, immaculate and almost false in their unchanging greenery. The way mud sucks at shoes and grass flattens into green asphalt feels like hitching a trailer onto a truck and driving until the wind breaks like branches, or we crumble into the sea. The queen is found but the king no longer wants her back. I hiccup my first name and write my last on the lenses of sunglasses. Clouds set up in the gaps between houses but the post remains hidden in envelopes. Fake eyes as simple as placing real children up for auction. The peasants turn to pizza delivery to keep the village afloat. When one chair is pulled back the rest follow until there is a caravan of ignored syllables chasing the light. When all is lost, consider castling, but remember there is a multitude of other moves, like cleaning your teeth or walking the dog or taking off your pants and watching a movie.

The drawer pines for more wood and for more cotton couples to reproduce. They never walked their errands, instead they flitted from groceries to repair shops like children playing hide and seek on speed. She carries a pair of rusted pins in her pocket, just in case the world decides personality is best proven by a colorful tin trinket stabbed through cheap denim. The professor, shadows covered in shadows. Nothing lasts apart and in holding each other’s hair from the water we admit resignation. We just wanted that piano dropped from the third floor window. I obsess with beginnings and the newness of it all; freshly printed plastic torn from a CD. The table is a jam session of paint and lead-based plates. The hem and haw of a middle aged double chin keeps listeners mesmerized: expand out, flap in. A gunshot makes a perfect E flat, and the sound of a lute breaking against a tree is an A sharp major, though nobody is left to prove it. The music, or what’s left of it, takes refuge in movement and a crumbling brick wall. In the end it wasn’t so bad, just a hooded veil spread over the lawn as we made our way toward a thinning parking lot. Pull the chord before maps are claimed and elevations are plotted. Sometimes the ash is worth the squeeze, but usually you end up watching old cartoons through snow on a broken television in a rusty row home off Beechwood Street.

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