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.
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.

Drinks at the Last Cafe Part II

The Corporation, you’ll be relieved to hear
is operating again, up and running, ready to take care
of your needs at some point. In the mean time.Drinks at the Last Cafe, a dystopic poem
Don’t Go SOUTH
Stay. We will REbUILD
not as catchy as
Eat your rat
It has no fat
Perhaps that was the trouble.

No, not all dead.
They could see the arrays ahead
Sucking in just enough unstable sun
to power a small lap top
a phone
an oven.
The Last Café
We have beer and bread
Sam smacked down cigarettes instead.
The girl – was not for trade.

Jerry was a poet and a thief
He wanted the girl, but accepted a pack
of cigarettes
It may cause death, she pointed out the label on the pack

Oh sweetheart. He blew smoke from his nose.
Everything causes death, even staying alive.
I saw them, Jerry said in exchange.
All headed south to Orlando
Pushing and Pulling suitcases, grocery carts
Costco flat carts, packed trucks the whole family
Pushing that stuff along.
whole morning to drag that much stuff
just a few yards forward.

Like the markets before
the Goblins controlled the trains
They worked the coal mines so long – the fuel
belonged to the Goblins
Sam smirked. We didn’t consider that.

YOU can lose unwanted POUNDS in just weeks.
They were right
losing weight was easy
she could count all her ribs.

I would love an airplane he said.
To fly, that would be like being a god.
There are no gods. She pointed out.
Not anymore. Sam kicked the rocks on the asphalt road.
But we need them, the gods, she continued.
Then make some up, he was tired of talking
Girls talked more than boys; he forgot that.
Okay, she said calmly, I will.

Some travelers were not thieves, but just wanted to share.
Sam still didn’t know which he preferred.
A handful of cigarettes adverted violence and bought silence
The girl took the stories – a traveling stenographer

In the Saloon at the End of the Line
a woman shared her huge apple
I had my arms up again,
her arms were deep red and scarred, her face spared.
He lit up right in front of me – a Roman Candle, remember those?
I hardly know what to do with myself now.

From the dark safe bunkers in the East, the corporation
issued questions from survey monkey:
1) how do you like us so far?
2) how’s the fall out?
3) do you feel more/less secure on a scale of one to ten
Ten being very secure.
A hacker from Montana sent in the results:
(1) Not secure
At all.
The site disappeared
Many forgot to vote

They came across the dead of course
Some random, caught in the blast, caught in the fall out, caught out.
Some lay in circular patterns, feet to feet, in a ragged cart wheel
Dead before the blast.

It was God, one guardian of such dead intoned
Your God killed them? The girl asked.
No, no, he impatiently waved his hand munching on a meat sandwich
No. They are with God
How do you know?
I sent them there.

100 miles per hour, Sam gloated stroking the dusty car hood
seven days of walking
accomplished in one hour, think of that.

Don’t you see?
At The Final Lounge
The woman of a certain age crowed
every wrinkle – gone!
Got them back when tanning was getting something done.
She pointed to the red stretched skin
blasted right away
I can’t stop looking at my face.

The center of the highway curved
over the bare horizon.
Shelters looked like casinos
Seven Feathers and a Squaw

The Drummer bragged –
Women loved me
he rolled his head, black hair flying
I was in the casino basement at the time
we thought it was a lame gig

You make music like I saw on TV.
The girl finally got up the courage to speak

Yeah, almost as good as fucking TV.

Deep in their bunkers, the easterners
snatched up random writers
as if Letter Men were wandering in packs
and only needed to be cut from the herd, and hauled underground
enough huddled in the dark and wrote for food and safety
From us it is the truth – DO NOT GO WEST
The survivors trudged through the sandy oily soil
And did not hear anything.

Packs of RVs, white land whales
Beached on their sides or backs, the attached furniture
Still serving a skewed purpose.
Yes, chortled the old man,
we had so much to eat
we needed a big cart to roll the food out of the store
a big car to take it all home
the refrigerators! The electricity!
The girl saved Twinkies to exchange for his story:

People like us, the old man remembered
stranded on an island, season after season
The professor tried to make a boat
The cabin boy struggled to help
He made the others laugh.
The movie star was very pretty.

Sam considered her notes. I don’t think that’s a legend
She finished writing with a flourish
It is now.