29 Palms

It’s Genny and I in
mid-July in the desert
Al’s Swinger Bar,
29 Palms

It’s Bud out of the can
and black nudes in velvet
on the walls
The sign above the bar reads:
“Official NAACP Membership Station”

There’s a man with big ears
at the bar laughing
a high chirpy howl
and the clock above the bar
is struggling
its second hand slipping
stumbling slowly up to the 12
then plummeting down
in relative bartime

Genny sits slumped low
in the blue-tattered booth seat
beside me to my right.
She is the eastern frontier of my
barroom world
the table the north
the white stone wall and
scratchy window sunshine
my western one.

Out there
I see tattoo parlors
The Oasis Bar & Grill
the orange ball of the 76
spinning golden
an hour before sunset

It’s a scratchy Plexiglas view
of America

a desolate yet hometown
friendly desert town
and the American flag stands erect
in an eastward wind

Genny wants to eat.
Drink!  I say
Prolong the magic of our escape
from the familiar, forested black
top hat inward spiraling
safe world of Idyllwild.

In three days I plan to bid adieu
and good riddance to that place,
to this place, to every place I know,
to trade the old for the new.

But Genny is a dream come true
a rugged, dark skinned beauty
and a voyager
and I have to wonder
what it is I’m thinking
in thinking
of leaving her

and in answer
to no question I’ve asked
she says
“I’ll always say yes.”

© 1996 Rick McKinney


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