From “Providence down at The Terrys” (published in AGNI):

I bounce a knee on the empty stool next, alone at the races, made of regret for missing the boy’s bedtime, for acting like a certified bastard in the lead-up.

Seven-thirty arrives at last. Big Terry lights the three sets, pipes in the sound, the Anfield crowd into the chorus of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Closeups of the fans stretching the scarves, swaying the flags. The scene sends chills of nostalgia through me, angry confusion through Martin down his end. He glares up at the imposition of the nearest telly as though it simply hadn’t occurred to him, the match overriding the juke.

“I paid for three more besides,” Martin says, palms up, pleading the case for his beloved Pogues.

“Pub rules since the dawn of man,” Big Terry says down to the crossword.

Martin only wants the familiar of the record. “Fairytale of New York,” Christmas Eve in the drunk tank retold. But the fucking match, Martin. Besides which we’re a week past New Year’s, and I’ve been brought to tears enough nights singing that tune. Back in the more treacherous times. I’d be MacGowan and Cass would be MacColl. Shabby waltzing and a laugh, though a sad one, owing to the unhealthy cadence of our lives before the boy came. So perhaps there’s your reminder, to thank gentle Christ he’s alright.

From “Impala” (published in Alaska Quarterly Review):

“At least you got a goodbye, Brainy, because I didn’t get shit,” Benny says, like he has been waiting a while to say it. The unlit joint bounces like crazy under the words. I pretend not to notice, but I can almost feel the first bite of smoke in my lungs.

I wonder whether him and Lindy ever hung out up here just the two of them.

Across the valley the coastal range is craggy and purple-black. Fingers of fog drape the gaps, stuck there colorless until the heat burns them off.

The Kings used to flood this valley for centuries at a time. Where our houses are used to be marshlands. My grandfather has marine fossils to prove it. The years he spent finding water, he also found mollusks, white coral. A hunk of shale with a kelp formation printed into it like a peace sign. He made wood frames and bought lucite cubes for some of them. Others he kept in baggies taped with different colored labels depending on the period. It is all in sagging boxes in a corner of the garage, but it will be gone soon. I am probably next. Mom has all but said she is moving into Wade’s place. One time I said I could just stay at the house. They looked at each other like I just told their all-time favorite joke, then Wade got his serious face together and told me I have a lot of things to learn.

From “Old Teeth” (published in Glimmer Train Issue 86):

I ask her what happened to her box of stuff, and she goes back inside to get it. I’m just trying to be a good guy. But it sounds like we’re old hats at this, drinking in the middle of the day together and leaving our things in bars. A real sorry team.

Copyright © 2019 David Goguen