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Lost Love Lounge

by Cassie Pruyn


Of all the half-lit compartments
on Dauphine Street, I choose
a bar whose name reverses
with each fresh coat of booze,

brick-walled and damp, where hipsters press
quarters into slots,
selecting lights or longs or reds
from the cigarette juke box,

and a boy in a too-loose suit
sings karaoke—
something about a girl’s goods
suspended from a peach tree,

how he aches to shake her down,
repeating again and again.
I ask at first for juice and rum;
correct it back to gin.

Then I see her.
                               Blond. Pearl-studded.
The room quivers like a grass field—
(her arms out, face tilted)—
beneath a freak wind, reeling

with questions: Why did she come here?
I asked her not— And who’s that?

As she comes closer I see
it isn’t her—and that’s Zach

behind her who moves to greet me—
I hug him like a lost brother.
They reenter the teeming sea,
stumbling into each other.

Back on Dauphine, gin drink
in hand. Diana Ross fades
in the cottony dark.
Swaying past gas-lit arcades,

I recall a night in June
when, by the dashboard light, she asked,
Remember Bunny’s daffodils,
that every spring collapsed

beneath their double-blooms?
I ignored the metaphor.
Meanwhile the bald-faced moon
whispered, Go for the door!

but she leaned closer, undeterred;
maples ruffled above our heads;
nearby the Hudson clambered
along its glacier-fingered bed.

The street quiets. I turn right,
sniffing the wind for rain.
As I pass, a pit bull riots,
straining against her chain.

 

Cassie Pruyn is a New Orleans–based poet born and raised in Portland, Maine. She is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. She was a finalist in the 2013 and 2014 William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and a finalist in the 2013 Indiana Review 1/2K Prize. Her poems can be found in The Double Dealer. (11/2014)


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