All night the city had spent
turning itself to licorice: red
black, the streets and buildings
getting loose, trying on masks.
At the bar, Nola’s on stage
stripped down to show how gypsy
hair can fall across a body
not yet gone to hell from junk.
A guy with a wedding ring
tells me she’s the kind of woman
on whom he could spend hours
kneeling at her altar,
But when she takes the seat
next to mine we talk instead
about cameras and crucifixions
the death of Elvis, Jim Morrison.
I wonder about clean sheets
and she wonders about clean
needles, each thought moving us
further from that narrow strip of land,
Where the jukebox sings Clarence
Carter Clarence Carter Clarence
Carter and the light comes down
from the honeyed lamps in spoonfuls.