Bassoonist, on Leaving the Orchestra
Once more the maestro mounts the stage, his ivory baton a splurge in loops. My obsidian rook again threads soft bullets of fog into wealthy heads. A low purring train of ebony wind, I fall oblong into a first repeat. My octave valve resolves us into intervals of dementia, and gulls slide over my cracked facets. Curved rows of violins cloud shapes in my double-reed mouth as it dissolves women into air. The cellos respond precisely and I solo. The concertmaster, tuxedoed fugue behind black metal music stand, eyes me. I leave. Heads haunt this lantern, warm arrangements of fatalities in each new piece of Beethoven. My bassoon stands disastrous, exacting on my lap, a crisis in solitude. I play seldom. Now, almost never. Insomnia of notes fixed, skeletal. Will I expose my self again? My face can be sudden— my absence a collapse. Inside, angels burble phlegm into a symphonic soup, while scales on my bassoon’s body peel, splash, and sink like scabs into a toxic broth. Archaic eels electrocute schisms of marionettes, whip ribbons in a pottage of vomit. Contrapuntal borscht— gelatinous chunks mimicking love, lark’s tongue in aspic spread thick on sarcastic dressing-room toast.
Late-night at the 24-Hour Walgreens
Regaining consciousness, I find everyone smoothed into another timeframe. But if my sutures stretch me oblong, I can still do mantras for breakfast. When the people upstairs meditate, roots from the soles of their feet branch down through our place like octopus’ tentacles. We tweak them into centerpieces for our various displays, but the chewy suction cups don't fit in with our virtual furniture. The sadness of our insomnia splashes tax forms on our sunny plutonium toys. So I disillusion this torrent of barefoot Hare Krishna’s clanging finger cymbals. Or maybe our slow-death memories don't wait at the door ringing, but barge in with guns, aggressive species of genitalia who tickle aloft our hysteria's migraine. I find myself in a condo full of emptiness. I know, right? We keep our cynicism shut up tight in jars for the unlikely event of mushroom embolism. While the woman behind the drug counter says, "a pomegranate the size of a baby's head is not exactly something you can pass by at the grocery," I focus my wandering thoughts on each raindrop as it plops on the warm sill outside the pharmacy window in mercury-vapor snow-globe implosion. But then, how many funerals can there be in a raindrop? The woman behind the counter grimaces, jaw clenching behind her makeup mask, pretending to care how she might medicate our late-night symptoms.
Bobby Parrott holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern Illinois University. His poems appear in Tilted House, RHINO, Phantom Kangaroo, Atticus Review, Collidescope, Neologism, and elsewhere. He sometimes gets the impression his poems are writing him as he dreams himself out of formlessness in the chartreuse meditation capsule of Fort Collins, Colorado.
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