They say he’s gone completely off the rails
or what’s the new favorite?
Right: out where the buses don’t run.
It was pride once — back in his twenties
chasing girls, always ready to pounce — the ink of him
indelible in each and then on to another,
showing off, wasting his promise on the glimmer
of aimless days on the Lower East Side.
Gone off completely, not even rhyming anymore, not even
English really, no syntax, just a mushy concentrate to push
the drawer closed over along with all the old
black & whites, there to ripen and grow that sepia
patina like a skin of fuzzy mold.
They say too he’s out West somewhere, who cares where,
maybe the Cabinet Mountains or the Sound, switched to bourbon
maybe, ego receding, cataracts on the memories
of the good old days like moss on a pond, the rowboat rotting
by the dock, but still that same smile, that hint
of the boyhood back when spray paint stuck to train cars,
those old screeching IRT red birds, and the sun shone on the brick
buildings up by Columbia.They say he’s gone completely off
but maybe he’s happy.
Leif Solem was born in New York City. He lives in Spokane, Washington, where he plays music on street corners when the weather permits.