Michael Shepler

(1942 / Cincinnati, Ohio)

Peppermint Schnapps

She pours a motel glass half full with Pepermint Schnapps,
Toasting her fellow-doomed-
Addressing them, oh so silently,
Calling each by name.

From where she stood on the second floor balcony
She could look down the crumbling stairs
Of the defunct motel, or out
Across the gray Sahara of the parkinglot
Toward the beach & the sea.
Having driven all day to get here,
Driving out of the lower-case holocaust of her life,
She thought it odd that the oldest thing visible
Should seem so new.

Behind her, past the knobless open door,
Its' plywood skin acned by a spatter of buckshot,
On the narrow bed, a man was sleeping.
A shadow cut across his throat-a shadow
That would deepen until he became faceless, formless.
There was a radio playing: 'La Paloma'.
Signals from a station, god knew where.
But she had no more time for this.
Stepping off onto shimmering asphalt heat,
Glittering with broken glass, she kicks off her shoes-
Begins to negotiate the dunes.
Yet even here, under the empty sky,
Soft menace tightened its' claws.
She held her sight steady,
Moving closer toward the horizon of empty blue.

The man in the room?
He comes to his senses in the dark,
Shambles outside to greet the stars.
& the stars wait,
Quiet as uncertain visitors,
In evening's velvet hour.

Submitted: Thursday, November 16, 2006
Edited: Saturday, November 20, 2010

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