PROSE POEM: Acid Notes

He’s playing the piano in the corner with a clunk-clunk-clunk half out of tune his fingers coming down hard on the keys like they owe him for a childhood trauma beating them down in some disjointed rhythm
His face twisted in a grimace and toes curled up in cheap shoes trying so damn hard to look expensive
Old man with a bottle of rotgut jeers at him from the back of the bar swears at him fuck off kid I’m trying to get drunk here
Oblivious to broken strings silent keys out of tune playing on and on like some panacea just out of reach and the barman serves him acid in a tall glass
Out into the night Closing Time stumbling to the same off-kilter rhythm damn damn damn past crackheads who look up in hatred or sympathy hey buddy you got any change
Syncopation and words he doesn’t understand or only half-hears repeating over and over whispers consonants beating
Pauses to lean against the brick wall and closes his eyes deep breath hold until his lungs ache and forget to exhale gritted teeth and sirens echo through the streets
He only knows they’re real when a police car speeds past splashing puddle-water on his coat ambulance following with its frantic shriek shriek
Streetlights blanket orange-yellow on the hard black river and his footsteps wet and tap tap along its banks shoes soaked toes cold base human concern
Streetlights flickering morse-code epitaphs of forgotten city-souls
Orphans all grown up and ODed on misery sprawled out blood cold with a needle still piercing them
Policemen shot at midnight “only coppers at a copper’s funeral” standing hunched against the rain
Mournful silent song of rooftops high above and if you stretch up high enough maybe you’ll hear it higher higher till the stars are in your face
Lie down and clutch the earth to stop from falling down off out away with the void at your back pleading
Eyes too full of sorrows and hatreds where hope was home it leaked out long ago
And still the bang bang of untuned piano strings shrieking down his blackboard brain carving in their eternities
find me a cloth to wipe it clean

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