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Shalimar

Two a.m. and still awake. He gets up again
to take a leak. Third time. Down the hall

the sulfur night light in the bathroom glows
like a warning. He thinks of Hieronymus Bosch,
the orange sheen of asses in a Lake of Fire.
“Pretty soon it will be my ass,” he mutters.

A convertible glides down the street, its top
luxuriously open to the night. And faint music,
tender music he recognizes but can’t name,
drifts in through the open bathroom window…

congas, Latin trumpet… the memory of a party,
drinking and sweating in the humid night,
swaying on a balcony against a woman
wearing Shalimar, her hand gliding luxuriously

between his legs. What was her name?

He stands in front of the toilet, straining
to catch more of the melody. It’s gone now.
The night’s deserted. Lawn sprinklers kick on
and beat against the grape-stake fence.

“Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,”

he whispers to the porcelain bowl, swaying
with his eyes closed, naked. Holding himself.

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