• a.p. duvall

Hot Shakes

Hot shakes and a tumultuous sound

sent e'erbody from every where and there

to seek safety underground.

Daddy had his Bushmills, mamma had her harmony.

Sister had her broken nose, brother had someone else's story.

They were all along the graveyard gates

and no one knew just where to stare,

but they knew that beyond the headstones

was a fog a-rolling causing panic where it could spare.

The funny thing about this scene was its own inevitability - 

like guilt o'er a brass ring,

a dog’s bark, 

a kitten's paw or a bird's bloody broken wing.

I surely came to you, but I certainly regret that now.

You went away from my word to stay behind the snowman's plow,

free from all this shame and Hell 

and watched as the wise old orangutan

serenely smoked his cigar in the rising rain. 

The clowns with empty wallets ran all the gauntlets, 

the jugglers all came before the judgement throne

to cast the children into blame.

The man on stilts ran through the minefield

with the strongman without an ounce of pain

and what happened to the drummer boy I don't really want to say.

The folks who chased the setting moon 

now had a saxophone player in their midst

and nothing was better than when he played “Kind of Blue”

and every soul, and every cop confessed to something they knew

As he stepped out to vomit and take a drunken piss.

So, the thunder came and sent them to a cave

and they dared not let their shadows wake,

so they spoke and choked in whispers and in a hush,

but nobody knew what to make of it

when the heard the rumblin' in the thrush. 

The dream they all shared contained the zodiac

made from candy-corn and steel gardenias

wilting in the daughter's plastic frame, 

highways and interstates and many such more,

lying on their backs in a compact next to a lady’s blush.

They never solved the riddle, no, they were all in such a rush.

They told a story of man behind a wheel

and of a wheel behind a man,

one fell asleep while the other followed through with the plan.

They meditated on the ramblings of syphallitic horsemen

who could fuck but couldn't stand,

they tried to fight against their nature

but you know nature,

she just took a firmer hand,

the songs they wrote to God had no grit or sand,

so it was spewed from his mouth

and he said to take another chance,

but everybody just stood up,

brushed the dirt off the sleeves 

and washed their unblemished hands,

now only the saxophone player and the orangutan are still friends.

The fog rolled out and the plow broke down halfway through the field.

Nobody was sure, but everybody knew that it was at some point real.

The radio played the same ten songs

and the television showed us it was just a new year.

You can curse me out and blame your bad luck and my lame leg

or you can curse the broken mirror and scramble the rotten eggs.

One will yell back at you, the other just won’t hear but you can't hold onto judgement just like a dead man can't feel fear.

The best was wished for all concerned,

and in a fire in the valley where authority snapped their bones,

all memories were burned. 

The footprints that were left stayed unadulterated,

and the flowers plucked were all put back underfed and overstimulated.

I came back to you and there’s something I still regret,

seeing you in the shade of the plow,

happy and bleeding out. 

Using whatever you're losing

to write a letter to no one with a name

that had a scent of prayers and eyes like twin smelted wedding rings.

What brought us here was hot shakes and a tumultuous sound, 

if we were better,

like heroin, 

we'd shoot it down.

If we were better, we would just stay underground.

If we were better there’d be no one left around.

If we were better we'd go out and we’d freeze our tongue's hometown.

If we were better we’d know how to stay young and keep the crown.

If we were better there would be no one newborn or in a bridesmaid's tattered gown. 

If we were better we wouldn't wait until our time had the nerve to come around.

If we were better there'd just be hot shakes and a tumultuos sound.


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