Last night I dreamt I was a rabbit, felt the wheel spin, tape stop, rewind, the music
playing again and again then fading to alarm.
On Tuesdays I would go to the video store, rent movies for ninety-nine cents, on Tuesdays even new releases were ninety-nine cents, I would hook my bulky RCA camcorder, the one with the picture of a dalmation, to our top-load VCR and dub all these films for later viewing.
We wouldn’t even watch the entire movie but instead scan through it on fast-forward to find a naked glimpse of nipple -- horror films before the kill, Apollonia purified in the lake -- would put the “BASS TAPE” in the boom box and play something loud so our parents could not hear the heavy breaths,
and last night in my dream I hopped through the grass
to VHS moans and the steady persistence of sound -- “PURPLE RAIN, PURPLE RAIN!”
Like Tupac Shakur before me I wake up
in the morning and I ask myself is life worth living should I
blast myself into outer space become one with the Ark-
estra, set the controls for bolt action solar flares do I dare
to remember a short drive in a small town on endless
repeat, a cassette labeled “BASS TAPE” beasties blasting ears hijacked
my little brother whines “too loud” we laugh at him, but know
now the tape was terrible as truth, unspooled to looping beauty
with time - these memories elude answers and conspiracy
we who have read too many comics to accept death, why did we believe Biggie’s but not
Pac’s? years and years later we sing can we get much higher? I don’t know,
I don’t know, the tinny Olds speakers shake the route swings back, back, flips the tape
even Superman died back then, re- turned as a robot, lame mullet and all
we flew down hills, around curves, velocity standing in for control, as if speed could freeze
moments and allow us to leave them in the backseat of history, safely bagged
unopened with a black arm band, we see no changes, but the words just hypnotize me
A fragile driveway hoop, shifting demarcations and hanging rim, shot developed to swish the angle of a rusted chain net because string decays faster in the rain.
A brother, a friend, a winding drive, a pick-up game that never ends with Sir Charles, MJ, and Mookie Blaylock, did you know that’s what they called themselves before they got big?
No one cares we do not play grunge here but something more thuggish ruggish at the crossroads souls sold for a good jump shot and a nice slam dunk on an eight
foot rim, something sad in the return, the dribble picking up, nature drowned by boombox “BASS TAPE” before the ball slams into the pavement, the chalk drawn free throw line, the awkward thump
of leather against plywood, the sense we will float and not come down
Take off your coat for the bees, bring meat into the parlor arrange it gently (a shock a forehead a skin)
on the white sofa, any pattern you like, patter distinct from snow’s soft betrayal, the subtle failings of cold (of winter of ice curls of flake)
cuts to the bone, runs blue through market, the clear wrap torn off and discarded in array of bone.
Where is the tongue, love, where is the tongue?
It is a question of tone rather than
words, the kind refuge of comedy, a filtered (shorn off- white magisterial)
buzzing, my larval days are over cast in dancehall, apropos apropos of gorilla rainstorms (sweat sea- sons spring frantic),
somewhere a beast flits through time enraged ends here, a pulp of en- gorged arrangements
Neal Kitterlin lives and writes in Matteson, Illinois. He has published poems in PANK, Front Porch, Sundog Lit, HOUSEFIRE, and many other fine places. He has an e-chap of election poems, Decisions, out from Love Symbol Press, and can be found on twitter @NealKitterlin.