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Published: Tue Jul 1 2014
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Lost Love Lounge

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 the author of Bayou St. John: A Brief History (The History Press, 2017) and the poetry collection Lena (Texas Tech University Press, 2017), winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in The Normal School, The Los Angeles Review, The Common, AGNI, Salt Hill Journal, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Portland, Maine, and a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, she teaches at Bard Early College in New Orleans. (updated 8/2017)

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