Drinks at the Last Cafe Part III

Everyone moved slowly at the Rapid City Diner  Drinks at the Last Cafe, a dystopic poem
The bar tender wiped the countertop with a wet rag
leaving streaks of damp
that did not dematerialize in the heavy air
You know there is never a girl in these stories.

I know, Sam accepted the home brew
With appreciation born of deprivation
I thought it would be more sincere
With the girl
The beer foamed over the mug
Sam wiped his mouth and laughed

More often the RV residents tried to walk the rest of the way
fallen along the high mountain roads
Bring Out Your Dead she whispered

They wintered in airplanes
That’s what Sam liked to call it – wintering.
The sky was so fierce that she named it the Time
of Abandoned Gods
The Travel Gods, the Train Gods, the Grass and Growing Gods
Those hide underground.
Like snakes Sam said.

Of course they weren’t the only ones in line for the planes
A big woman with wild hair in row 16 asked about her.
Daughter?
No, a rescue. Ah, sleeping with her?
Sam shook his head.
The woman eyed the slender girl. She was old enough.
Sam looked at the sky instead of the wild hair
I am not tempting her gods.
So he and the woman went in the back.

Vision of the street. As the street hardly knows.
He called himself the Drummer
since that’s where the first terror gang found him
what were the choices?

Boys wilding in the center of the country, taking on
anything that moved – Goblins; they made the best story
Already the enemy. The terror gangs attacked.
They titled it the great train robbery
The Drummer posted the video on creaky You Tube
It never made money
so the Corporation never bothered to take it down.

The Mother God,
The girl explained to the men in the long light of spring
has to stay with us, must care for us
which is why she is the mother.
which is why she must be a god.

Her logic, impeccable; the beer, helpful
The desperate men nodded and gave them both

If you are abandoned. The girl continued
the Mother God will protect you.
Like a foster mom. One man said.
Yes, she agreed, not knowing what that meant
It didn’t matter; she and Sam were safe for another night.

By reasonable deduction
The rest of the gods were angry gods
I will find out why. She said.
Sam helped her down the muddy banks of the Missouri river
She scrambled and tried to imagine enough water
to wake and drown
Yes, find out
the names of the gods, ask around.
A trained roared overhead.
Cries of the Goblins mocked them from above.

He always tried to stuff her backpack with food
Cans of chips, ding dongs the stuff that survived in the Chevron stop
the notebooks took up too much room.
Leave them?
No, I will carry the stories, leave the cans.

The Preacher still danced on the graves of the wicked
The wicked! The wicked did perish!
I told you all so! He danced and danced a round, spinning dance

The girl drew up as she watched,
the ground shifted, the preacher stumbled,
Sam threw out a warning arm
She pulled up to her full height, taller by much more than when they began
he noticed with astonishment.
The wicked.
The Preacher fell into the dust and rocks.

All the voiceless women, she whispered
the stoned, the burned, the buried, the raped
How do you know the wicked?

Because they are gone!
The howl danced from his lips and was caught up in a train whistle.
What was that?
Sam smiled
The Goblins travel much faster.

Share This:

Drinks at the Last Cafe – Part I

Some took pictures with damaged phonesDrinks at the Last Cafe, a dystopic poem
buildings flayed alive
collapsing away from the center
A pattern of worn dominoes hit by an angry child

You had to be quick of course, to see the photos
the cities that became just place names overnight
A rescued laptop hooked to a generator with a minute and a half of charge left
one minute on a rogue site
thirty seconds before the corporation shut it down.

It’s not true that we all died.

She met him right after.
Her parents stayed dead in the back of the dank theater
she was too slow when the carts came by
Bring out your dead.
Tired of rat
she dressed in leg warmers and a top hat
picked her way to the Last Cafe In The City

Call me Sam
he huddled over a beer
smoked his last.
Alone? Worried about the Goblins?

It was always so dark in the alley behind the theater where her mother worked.
It was difficult to imagine how that hard light
penetrated so deep between the V of black vertiginous buildings
the flash of white puncturing the small TV

the children stopped chanting
Eat your Rat
It’s Low in Fat
the terror gangs stopped shooting
didn’t want to do the other side any favors.

She knew she couldn’t stay another day.
Sam finished his beer. How old?
Fifteen
Shit, thought you were 18
They all want me to be 18
We do he agreed.
He helped her order everything that was left.

California, he announced to her and the empty dishes
Sam unfolded a large map, a complex origami project.
This goes back to when it was terribly normal
to drive forever, cars blackened the country
Like buffalo –

It will take a few seasons, he cautioned
Gold Coast, Swimming Pools, Movie Stars
South is faster, you sure?
She knew about seasons – swimsuit season, flu season

He scooped up a computer, three loaves of hard bread
and the girl: top hat, leg warmers and a pink tutu

Once they cleared the domino buildings
the sun, a basketball orange suspended mid-dribble
on an intractable asphalt sky
motioned them to follow its everyday death.

They encountered others – anyone with only a few things
to carry, escaped the quickest
some survived, although they didn’t know it at the time
traveling west served as a last act of defiance.

She told Sam stories
to fill in the silent trudging towards the flaming sun
how she felt trapped between buildings
that squeezed daylight into switch blades of light

the Goblins yelled from the shadows
back and forth, trading a persimmon for an apple
Buy, buy, buy
Don’t be afraid her mother ordered
but don’t eat.

hand size strawberries,
cantaloupes the size of her head
buy buy buy the Goblins
dressed in same kind of clothes and shoes
as she –
Her mother
wore fantastically high platform boots
swayed from booth to booth in her short dress
An uncertain tulip, the stalk too weak to hold up the head

buy buy buy.
Computers glowed at the stalls; displaying web sites with stories,
tiny children held up gigantic strawberries
grapes, bananas, it’s all good, grinned the Goblins,
all organic. Natural. Certified.

No, no we will find the cans. Her mother said
dragging the girl from the fruit.
We’ll find the kind already
chopped up into bite size
bits and pieces, stored in aluminum recycle, reuse, reduce
they pushed the cans home in metal carts with broken wheels.

now the metal carts are filled with bodies.
Bring out your dead.
Did they eat the fruit, the dead?
By the time she knew, it didn’t matter
and the Goblin market was gone.

Blast Away Fat
Her mother read the article out loud every night.
Her mother’s arms
were held together in the middle
by a knob of bone.
The camera adds ten pounds; she tapped at the cover of Glamour
The girl wondered if mother would look better
if she held a camera up between them.

Burnt out days. Sam muttered.
the poets are always right.
It just takes time.

Continued next week.  Subscribe!

Share This:

Death Watch

Grief makes you hungry

Not for justice

for taco flavored Doritos
and bags of the new bites –
bite size comfort candy in
Reese’s, Heath Bar, Rollo, Goodbar
Yellow bags of tasty trash, we unconsciously eat themammonia sunrise by Catharine Bramkamp
by the handfuls
between hours of watching
the rise and fall
of scattering breathing by
the loved one

cookies
more chips
a bowl of “Cowboy Casserole”
that by law
should be filled with rattlesnake and buffalo
we dared my brother-in-law to eat a spoonful
he only found lima beans

The Mexican restaurant down the street
plays the soccer game loudly
followed by juke box music of an artist
who is big in Mexico City
but just background noise tonight
the noise carries comfort
California normal

it’s not a matter of questioning
the order of the universe

in a half hearted attempt
fruit was offered one afternoon

we looked up at the sky
and asked for the potato chips
the cupcakes
those cookies with coconut and chocolate

sugar to serve up more tears
life is so fucking short
pass the dessert
we will eat that first.

Catharine Bramkamp
From: Ammonia Sunrise

Share This: