Dim Lighting at the Afterparty

I was still drunk from breakfast. I was working on a poem called “The Blackest of Shattered Streets,” trying to breathe life into the last stanza. The first line read: “So I drift among the slate-gray concrete faces . . .” You know, New York sidewalk in winter as stand-in for a cold society. That was when Chuck, our regional branch manager, told me to take the rest of the day off. He said he smelled whiskey on me and was aware I was creating a work of art instead of counting beans like everyone else. It was the Commerce National Bank, where everyone wore name tags, drank coffee, and thought the same things. They flocked about in large numbers, as indiscriminate as seagulls in their white-collared shirts. I was never one of them, even before the divorce, when I thought I wanted to be. Since then I’d watched the years drip down my sides like candle wax, and now that there was almost nothing left, I was almost free.

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