From a Couch, with Luxurious Squalor

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(the following text was found on the back of this photo in tiny immaculate printing, dated 8–12-51)

Carefully careless with a bottle in hand, wading through your afternoons, too, just Ella Vin and me, that old dash of airplanes sputtering over pebble-and-tar Victorian rooftops, before twelve hits with a curtailed wallop, belly-flopping right into our lives, lamp-lit and dangerous, bowling without socks, we’ll knock ’em all down and never get up to clean it, slept over and in and out of ourselves, finally “derangerous” and “unfittable” to all the weeping sores and soaring sorrow the world’s holding over for us to hang by, cigarettes like pocketknives to carve up night’s sorry state, blessed be this knock-kneed forever we get to dabble and pose with, or for, in the posh tints of tomorrow’s made-up places and that seedy afterglow of yesterday’s burgundy gone scarlet to the carpet, and where there’s always a little more gin in my arsenal, so, cough it up, gents, and get that jealous scent from your dinner jacket, because we’re the ones you never call except when you’re looking to accent your evenings with dimmed lights, the pleases you never get around to thanking, the lost loot less grand than any piano music stuffed through the carry-on baggage you lug from one unlucky gal to the next, all wire without the barbs, so we’ll out-wait the touts and the nuns and the grocery clerks too, sure, and you, yes, in the uninhabitable graces you never get around to counting or bestowing, in the clocked kisser you expose for the unlucky few to view, on a lopsided cushion that does anything but, in stereo but never in unison, singing along to maimed moods that we never knew we’d get a chance to know better, buttered-down and settled-up this way, stealing gilded arcs from an ashtray’s tumble to the warped hardwood, and who are we to be floored by what riveting things you never get around to telling, instead slurring, “Waiter, there’s water in my whisky,” with a gulp and a throat’s forever-stuck lump, in the pastor’s purest shame, in the absolute reckless joy of some pious sap’s idea of sin, in the untoward passion of a fall into my worst graces, in all the hinting at hidden stuff I’ll never say aloud, memories of dreams inside of other dreams that I only remember while I’m still lost in veils of sleep, as if I were toggling from a reach’s stretch to a scream to a scratch to a yawn for most of my adult life, well, here’s to Margaret the Barefooted and spring-training blowouts and cats asleep on trains and the weary and teary and the overlooked and forgotten and the harassed and unnoticed and the born-too-late and dead-too-soon, in the passing of all evenings, shades drawn, smoking alone in the family room, a special sort of recourse for the peel of sun gone flat and unappealing towards drapery’s means, such a cursed and somnolent beauty that rescues purrs from motors and wraps the present in gold, a place to be nothing in, finally, beyond any concern for what it means to be what you always just assumed I was…

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