July 27, 2011

Mark James Andrews

Old Murphy beds and sweaty blankets

Midwestern noir downtown
in winter at mid century
the feral men and women
are given fever by liquor
in a barroom blasting the Heat
up from basement boilers
into the toy light of toy neon
framing the brass cash register
of quiet paper bills and tinkle coins.

The monster juke with 45 rpm’s
pumps out plastic falsetto solace
to these men in little toy leathers
or summer cloth coats stuffed under
with layers of St. Vincent de Paul
these women without lipstick or hats
leaning up to the bar apron
scuffing the cracked linoleum
kicking the ghosts of dried spittoons
perching languid and sweating on stools
dreaming of Miami or Cal beaches

all greased up under the toy Ra sun
stretching out like sleek seals
but trapped in real time working up
to an urgent fast fold down fuck
in old Murphy beds and sweaty blankets
that furnish the studio flops
up the back stairs but never passing
the pay phone on the wall by the door
with the metallic chord dangling taut
around the dying neck
of the Yellow Pages crumbling
in the dry heat like some Egyptian tome.

Breathe into the dry paper

We are both screwed
into these cheap
leatherette stools.

While nodding
into his scotch
the professor asks:

"What's next
for you, Marco?”

He published
2 novels
in the '60s.

His soul is still
wandering back
there and then.

I focus
on the bar sex
napkin cartoons

lift one up
to my nose
and mouth
and breathe into
the dry paper.

No guru
no method
no PHD
my fingers fold
a delicate creased
Japanese bird.


Mark James Andrews is the author of Burning Trash (Pudding House, 2010). His writing has appeared in many print and online venues including Red Fez, Full of Crow, Literary Burlesque, Short, Fast, and Deadly Anthology, Camel Saloon, Deuce Coupe, and Thunderclap. He lives approximately one mile from the city limits of Detroit most of the time.

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