Promise that you’ll make wishes on the grain elevators that blow by off the highway as it whoops along with me. Give the pan to a caboose or two, and the faces of harried geniuses camel up the worst of it, then the splatter bugs get their fate decided for them by wind and glass. Gone by in the giving that graces the presented gallop of information, like the way a horse gets when it whips full of beans, and you’ve got those catalpa tress of course, maybe lining a wide boulevard, or it could be just sand on the dashboard, and the cold shivering foetus of it all making irreverent speeches in platform shoes tooling alongside burnished triumphs of amphibian-breathed holiness, and all of this rudimentary gall-giving crater-happy silent treatment doesn’t do a burp of good among wardens and stalled vehicles. But getting the side view is necessary. In fact, speaking to Luddites with pin-tail souls is pergola-watching at its finest. After you retreat. The gaping Sunday-faced marrying along bloodlines, and the shoulders sag and the armpits drip and the lint sticks to chewed gum in breast pockets and flints and is flicked away, those who do such things, we make the dandiest little greeting cards, well, those who worrying are whee-ing and hooray-ing under the hard-packed dirt of another day to have to suffer through, those are plenty and they are left to themselves in keeping pennies and playing games of keep away with a box of doughnuts. “Come on over and get your reward,” sing the chariot racers and filling-station attendants, but there’s nobody to listen. Cascading past the ruins of the highway’s scarry past, sucking up all the sugar cubes, making speeches, getting tired of window-looking, fiddling around with a pocket book and scotching a few canceled checks, and the wind plays tricks on the stereo while a passel of July-bugs shadows by. Cordial, and willing at any cost, to bemoan the youthier currents of any suitable event, the boss stays put and paints murals on the ceilings of outhouses. He trims the gristle from the marrow of what you used to be, and then tells you to put a lid on it. Keeping the bulge and the glitter alive, manila-envelope skin and telegrams from outer space, knowing that the end of man is to know, or just passing the afternoon going north-east out of the city. People pray for their own demise at certain times of the year, when the weather won’t stop playing games with their god-fearing spirits, and that great big eye slowing them down from upstairs somewhere. Tilling the backrooms for spare gold coins, standard and stooped, we sift through what’s left and bag the rest. Love’s tablecloth stays stained with who you are in my dreams, nothing too dramatic, not like weaving in traffic, not like tossing peanuts in a panhandler’s palm. More like getting in on the joke, swanky and loose in the tongue, sporting a boiled shirt, smoothing out the wrinkles in your particular fashion of growing old, cussing high and low and not upset at all. And the commissaries are streaking down the line, holding off colds, playing spoons with a few shirtless dweebs, and patches of chokeberry and meadowsweets and photinia rub the hillsides with splotchy dashed color while you run errands and play fetch with ballots and cure your own shyness with watery ebullient cheers like hey-ho-let’s-go stuff. Sure. Run a hay-wagon through it and take off all your clothes. Go pantomiming The Great Potato, tousled hair crinkled and matted down with perspiration over his forehead, the pudgy face, cagey, the trenches in his eyes, the seven-fifty seersucker that’s long in the pants with the cuffs crumpling down over high black shoes, the tissue-papered tie, imbibing orange soda with two straws at once. But assuming the nicest of things about all involved you can lead a cemetery tour group to flat-out indecent or just drowned decisions, and you with your taffy hair, you’ve got to lead a duck, even with famished cheeks and an unfinished smile treading water on your swimming-pool face. So, please do not rest in peace or chaos, like when you’re reaping profound things from a private conversation, and then somebody else walks in the room and it’s like everything is dead and you can’t talk anymore. Wonder comes in bunches and blooms like crepe myrtle. You leave it at smokestacks. You leave it at love-vine clambering up out of the weeds, to those of the wool-hat and cockle-burr variety casting their lot with the jumping-jack-flashers. You leave it at b-b-b-b-as-tuds with spit flying and screechy tires rubbering the dirt shoulder off the high shining bright slab. A gun holstered like a tumor under an arm. Tamarisk and hobo décor strangling the gaps between here and way way way way over there. Tramp chic. Nothing more to keep you brightly lit. Make sure you count the telephones poles as they spool by fishing for compliments, stringing along the race of the wires, as your eyes dance bumpy and troubled, a shade pulled down over your features by an unknown hand that, no matter what, you’ll never get to know, not the way you could’ve, once, long ago, before the cold-glove grip of the past caught up and strangled the guts from you. As you were. Taps plays. Quiet prevails. Your heart breaks over and over again. Blaming the deviant nature of one on the whole’s nurturing. And you scamper away like a cat escaped from a sack, and you part ways with mahogany wainscoting and the massive stonework of the cellarage, and you crowbar your way back into the wreck of your past. Don’t answer the phone for a stretch. Guess what’s for dessert. Leave your name and number on a velvet jacket’s cuff. Let’s shake the dust off our inner-selves and gussy up the fraternities of now for mud-shack parties that just might never end. Hopelessly redeemed. You get weary making plans. Divorced from the higher things in life, handling it all too well, after the well’s dry and the moon’s gone, and we’re waking up in different beds. The coffee’s taking too long to work, and nothing’s resolving on its own. Sundown’s got its own mess to clean up, or what’ll do until the mess arrives, but then we’ve still got the awful responsibility of time, on our side and against us too, with the highway lowing off scrubbed and matted, sounding out distance into more distance.
“I don’t rightly know, there, well if it’s just to lend out parking spots then…” His creamed and curded face was meadow-muffin colored, and no amount of mints would take the sour garlicky odor from his breath. There wasn’t a lot to like about that bloated mug, as scowling and twitching were its most salient attributes. His head wasn’t as big as a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it’d give you a hard time seeing around it in a movie theater even if you were sitting about 5 rows behind it. From the ringsides to the gallery, even, would cause a race to Reno for a break in the action. Calling him a heavy sweater would be doing an injustice to marathon runners; sweat pits took shape under his armpits almost instantly after donning a shirt.
“Grub around and glom onto the clutch of things. I’m hightailing it to Virginia where they’ve got apples growing wild on the trees right there off the highway and you can just reach up and pluck one down and eat it right there on the roadside and ain’t nobody gonna bother you none about it.” I conceived an idea. I let nothing pertain. “I’ll smart aleck you to death, I reckon,” said I as I sidestepped a remarkable remark. And in the slow muscle of the evening foaming with a greasy, slush-like moan there would be the cries of strays and the hee-haw squawk of seagulls, and near the church-bell melody of stoops cluttered with posy and feline purrs and mechanical trinkets that hum and bump and rattle, and the swinging of doors; and now, because you’ve kidded the hotel chippies long enough, you take the charm of hand-holding funambulists, you set the saucepan away for good, you toss aside filmy gowns and the punched-through spackle of deteriorating drywall. A purpling mass of sky descends, or seems to, as everything is close and all around. The marsh sings, half repulsed by the flash of car headlights, half unaware of even itself. People drive on and over things — the thin, crackly crust of the present — with vowels that clack like spoons.
“There’s no weather in it for us. Spilt and dreamless,” he croaked. “That’s about all the gum I got. Christ. Bladders like teaspoons. There’s no getting around it. Swimming around with your ken, some pother and semantic struggling. Christ. I mean, Jesus.” I threw a tennis ball at his head. It missed, but I made my point. “Stop your infernal suffering.” He was a flypaper-souled guy, and his ambitions lent towards card tricks and needle beer. Nothing made sense about him. He’s the kind of guy who’d instantly make comradely raillery turn to dour subjectivity. Skin rough and worn on his tooled and tan face, fresh bloody crust in nick-cuts from shaving peppered here and there on the sag of his cheeks, gumball-blue eyes always squinting, peering circumspectly at whatever happened to be passing their way. A huff and a spleenish groan. A self-serving public servant. Nothing but poly-ticks. “Stop your fussing. The sun’s come to light, and I don’t know how long it’ll bear witness to the likes of you.”
The backyards with their patchwork fences of chicken wire, mesh hexagons rusty and sagging in places, the grass sopped with rain, muddy puddles pocking humps and clumped weed-flowers, and their chimneys so lonely, cobbley, smoking above tin or sheet-metal roofs where the rain patters and thumps and makes those below sink into a somnolence, an almost-trance that keeps the yawns coming and the coffee brewing all day, and then there’s time for to listen to the train whistles as those hunkering gray beasts smoke and screech into the station to remind all that life is motion, even when it’s being still, even on a late rainy afternoon, say, while the moths are still toying with the idea of playing hover over the flicker of yellow bulb light, even when this here train is grumbling and grinding to a halt, the people inside just shadows, just figurines, just chattel awaiting another destination in an endless line of destinations, none of which will, as they never should be, the end. A rumble stirs through the dining car, dishes and wine glasses awkwardly cavorting on tremored tops of tables. Windows spectacularly frame rectangles of the forlorn landscape. A water tower leans gawky over rows of corn. Klee-klee-klee whines from a tidings of American kestrels. Squares of fallow farmland checker the flat stark terrain, the bland similarity of monotonous pastures, a place where nothing can hide, where nothing can be obscure, and the sun sets fire, and the sky’s so big it’s like it just spreads out and wraps around everything and makes you dizzy and lost in it. The porches are warped and creak-abounded and covered with wind-blown dirt. A man chewing on a pipe pauses for a moment, sets down his newspaper, sits up in his rocker, and stares at the ruddy and scaly flesh of the world, his drifting mind now settling on something, something that curtains his sight’s movie screen, something that bread-and-roses his instincts, and he might even chance to catch wind of dogwood and redbud, or part ways with dreaming Chickamaugas and Chattanoogas in an attempt at expiation, short-lived as it may be, for the horded company of his past. The skyline trembles.
In a wild, electric way her hair, cut off at that crazy length, very black and choppy, by itself could make you fall in love with her at a glance. Something disinterested strolled around in her eyes, which were glassy and moon-like, and which would sparkle at you but only if it was necessary. Being close to her was an occupational hazard, though one you’d risk every time, as the summer dwindled and the lawns faded to a burnt sienna and cow stink crept in to chase away the cedar and pine. There were certain times when that graceful turn of her hips, her luxuriant and languorous stride, the way she stood on tiptoe to spoon sugar into the coffee or playfully shadowboxed with your palms, were enough to make you stick around. So, then you step off the train and it’s cold, a biting cold that pinches and slaps at your face. You weren’t made for weather like this. The gravel scrunches like dry Quaker Oats as you step away from the platform. The houses clap and board up your dreams. A shiver warms beneath the pavement, and you carry your bags to the terminal bar where you’ll sit and smoke cigarette after cigarette and drink beer after beer until they oh-so-politely ask you to leave with the utmost brevity and class, and you’ll go, quietly, without causing a ruckus, lugging along ghosts in gray suits with plastic daffodils sleeping in their lapels, dragging your feet, on your way home. The road sweeps, tilted and crumbling, and mulls in a wash of moonlight. Rabbits and prairie dogs mingle and dart and artfully dodge drool-hungry wolves out in the chaparral’s dark. Rounding bends is a serious high-risk situation, but it’s got to be done, without the aid of streetlights, so you do it, matching wits with the doghobble and barberries and corkwood and hollyleaf buckthorn and smoketree invading your mind’s garden. For a minute there, as the horizon marbles and the guardrail corkscrews and culverts clunk underneath making your head rattle like a clogged Hoover, you start to think you’re drowning, but then you realize it’s just the hogwash of terrible gutless remorse suffocating and botching up your reason from clear-headed to sappy wilted-lettuce numb. There’s a sneeze’s moment where you know just what needs doing and just how it will be done. You walk along the roadside, mud clinging to your boots, scratched by thorns and wiry branches, socks brambled, eyes peeled for headlights, ears wary of engine sounds, treading along careful and hurried, carrying yourself like a carton of eggs, awe-struck, an iota of kindness still hell-or-highwatering down your swallows, slicing at the mean-stitched blimp of what it currently means for you at this moment to be alive.
…and the preacher says may god have mercy on your soul. while all i can think of now is for some reason these old women, bundles in black shawls waiting for the bus in the rain, huddled under awnings, looking glum and dissatisfied, a bunch of dogs. the bathroom attendant sits and waits, the paper spread out over his crossed legs, skimming the box scores and race results. electricity used to be my pal, but now it’s going to go on ahead and be my demise. oh well. there’s plenty times before i’ve thought of doing away with this old thing i call me, the subway track sucking me down below the wheels, shocked by the electric third rail. retraining your mind to think in certain peculiar ways. plenty’s the time i’ve figured i’ve got the capacity for compassion, for mercy too, for shit’s sake. lousy kisses. that’s something else. i’ve had plenty of life’s gutters. sure. real sucker for waiting around. but who’s going to hold your hand when you’re down in the dumps? not me. not me. the preacher says something about salvation while an accordion booms at the back of my head. clamped to a wooden chair. a levy of muddy sadness. i am sleeping in chains. my feet are bound in iron. it was the way his glasses kept falling off, the greasy nose, the crooked eyes, and most of the time he was hounding me to keep quiet. i was too loud for him. i talked too much. well. oh well. that’s the short of it. the worst part of being an asshole is how the god-awful loneliness gets to you. the way life seems to be dancing on away without you. but that’s the way i wanted it. i am a son-of-a-bitch. i am the night. color me black. that’s the life i made for myself. doesn’t hurt that i’ve got a mug like jack elam. some say i’m ugly. i don’t know. a matter of taste. god seeping back into the mix. satan pleading for a second chance. eyebrows that matter. i’m figuring on a few things in this here afterlife. walking in beauty like fireworks on a fusty old night, even if it’s through swamps and sewers, even if it’s a deluge of rat piss. the sweet guise of sweaty guys like me. milling around with nothing to do but frown. the lord ain’t cruel enough to do to me what i shouldn’t a done to others. appraising the situation like so, well, here what we’ve got is about one hundred and ninety pounds of hammy flesh dripping with low-end aspirations. lock it up. feed it chopped bits of tire and charcoal coffee. keep it docile. make sure it doesn’t get any ideas of its own. keep them genes to yourself, boy. that’s right. so i made up for lost time and ran afoul of the world they made for me. got my scrap-metal soul heaped into the frying pan’s fire, and like a smelter it made me what i am, all hardened globs of bitter revenge and stones of remorse. the bible spills riddles on the floor, and the tiles are cracked inside of me, and the grout grows wild into crooked rivers of mold. when i’m dead and gone. when i’m nowhere. lift a gauzy curtain of muslin over what remains. or maybe bloodstained organdy. i miss the sound of my own footsteps. the slap and bop of patent leather on concrete, climbing stairs, scampering to the drugstore, tapping to music, stepping softly through shag carpet, toeing around in the clothes hamper. there are sparrows needling my brain. events will not conspire to appraise the situation. time plays funny games with what’s left of it, and tosses aside your instincts for noticing it. god speaks through flushing toilets now. a emphysemic baritone murdering an aria. i’m torching all the places where i used to live. i’m taking my deepest dives with me, and if i ever come up for air, if i lose my loose change, my american appetite will fatten up on the meek, on the powerless, on those driven to distraction by infomercials, on the petty and charmless, on the lawnmower-motor-powered, on the mangy indigent irresponsible hordes, and i will not sink before i am full. i will be a nightmare swindled into your daydreams. i will plunge below mediocrity’s tide. do not think of tender things. that churl of a preacher’s passive in his insight. oily tar-coated shit that passes for compensation. i remember chicken that tasted like shoes because i’d put my wet converse in the oven to dry them out. i’m holding out for pity from higher places than this. my knees don’t got knives in them just yet. lost my teeth in a poker game. been clubbed by the indecent demands of jealous ladies enough to know kind shoveling from a bible’s greasy pages, and now they’re going to cook me, fry my brains, char this fleshy hunk of scabs and misery until it smokes and sizzles. while all i can do is ponder on back to the loops and horseshoes of that highway curving off and disappearing into the whorled mashed chunks of fog. came back home to nothing. went away. being gone is something i got quite good at. when you trail off down that miserable plume-smoked two-lane there’s really not much else you can twine to your thoughts except that it’s cold and the headlight’s ain’t doing the shining that they should be. milling around here i think about these things now and am not saddened but maybe made dumb by the crush of those there events that maybe shouldn’t have happened but there really is no help for that now. the white dashes take some getting used to, and it’s flickering and hesitant, well, if you make your way along the snakes and hairpins gashed into the scraped mountain walls, and if the radio’s churning static, and then there’s the sweeps of nodding off, almost zombie-like, a comfortable lull in the ankles between ups and downs on the pedal, a fuzzy safe place between dreams, and you come to and head-shake back into a hurried turn of the wheel, and screeches come and go, you smell pine maybe or taste ginger on your sandpaper tongue, the back of your throat dry and scratchy, your eyes itching with a steady burn, and the surge of adrenaline snaps you to attention and you think i can do this i can do this i can make it just keep these eyes on the road turn on the heater and breathe and keep going, and you do, and the turns keep coming and you’re dizzy, but there’s amphetamines in the glove compartment and you remember this and you think i think i can think i can think therefore i can do, and a popped blister of hope bursts and sambas through your veins, and you know this’ll not be the end. dope drove me to distraction, sure, and maybe destroyed some good parts of my brain’s cool-handed configuration, but that ocean-side highway that there night spilled more of my ambition to the shore than anything else ever did. so you go ahead and take the pills, and at first it’s like you’re high just off the taste, but then you settle in, and the fog starts to get friendly with you, and the motorcycles are one-eyed monsters, friendly enough, come to help you along as they swerve and cough by. faces smile at you from the sheer cliffs, aiding your wakefulness, and then you start jabbering to yourself about androids who write poetry and sugar substitutes and why it is you always do this, always end up alone driving late at night. maybe you get jittery. sweat-soused hands bang staccato on the wheel. just bumping and winding along with a beer-stained roadmap for the grizzlier places claiming rights to the crying jags of your always-longing club-footed heart. the highway trees are dragons swooping in for a little closer gander as you hem and haw around the bends. then maybe you surmise that confidentiality and privation are two very different things, and privacy is perhaps just a shoddy way of covering up for a lack of confidence, and you scratch your belly, and you crack the window so the sea air can rush in and lift your sappy sodden head out of this trance that’ll only end you up careening into the rocks below, smashed and alone while the waves lap up what’s left. what’s left. then there’s that. it’s an iffy business, trying to pole vault prevailing circumstances surrounding loss. just try not to leave too smoky of a trail. test out a few xanadus on the nail-tough verandas of your mettle’s dealey plaza. the road keeps coming at you and at you. on and on. and these small tacky obeisances buoyed up by reverence and middle-infielder instincts. so, you get in a cab one night. it’s pouring rain, of course. it’s got to be raining. you start to wonder about the word ‘inept’ and if there’s a counter to it in your flea-bag soul somewhere. you want to feel very adept, if it were a bunch’s possibility, at what you are about to do. think. think. think back. there. like when i was younger, when i was very adept at sitting around and not saying anything and not doing anything, i would contemplate art and poetry and opera and philosophy. now all i do is pace back and forth, snoop and pry into the lives of others, and think about girls and sports and money. it’s okay. i don’t do much regretting over it. i cut my fingernails. i snooze through the alarm most mornings. miss buses and get caught in the rain. socks soaked. so, you get out of the cab, right? you pay the cabbie. you make a beeline for a hotel awning. and then, maybe, some guy kamikazes out the front door like a man-in-the-moon marigold set afire, another immolated byproduct of beauty’s lost art. and he rams headfirst into you and sends you mister over sister into the street, where you scratch and bloody yourself up pretty good while narrowly avoiding oncoming traffic with swift dodges and lurches and skippings and eventually a clutch sidewalk-ward dive that gets you stomped by a bellhop in a red cap. some guy ditches his cigarette in the vicinity of your head. dog shit’s on your heel. and, of course, it’s raining. some binaca-breathed bastard is hovering over you, asking if you’re up to snuff, and you’re not, but you say that you’re doing okay, just to make him ditch you and scram. you’re not okay. you’ve never been more not okay. a circus horse rears back, bucks and kicks, and the weather is dark and loud, and the cops are selling cucumbers, apples, pears, and kumquats out of their trunks. it’s a bad business and you’re plunked down right in the middle of it. poor you. jesus. suck it up, right? get over it. move on. that’s the thing to do. don’t use up all your half-life wallowing in your own parking-garage sadness. use them old survival instincts. sure, but then amnesty catches up to even the sneakiest among us, like describing a bark to somebody who doesn’t know what a dog is, pistols go on murdering, grim becomes you, and even the losers scratch off a few lucky numbers between once’s plenty and the land’s yawn. i keep my jaws clenched just in case the guard dogs sniff their way back around here. can you imagine? the preacher makes his signs of the cross. i was sitting lonelier than a dead chess piece in the back room of eddie’s where the boys were all dealing kansas city lowball, and the crashplunk of pool balls was just mood music for saints, and i was leaning back on two in a folding chair sucking down cigarettes and sipping rye whisky from a highball glass. tantamount to nothing i was coming to depend on the seedier sort for my luck, spending my spirit all over town in my robin-egg-blue highwaters, in my eskimo hare-pelt hat, in my tattered army jacket with the lining hanging on by a few threads here and there, with my torn fingerless gloves the color of deer turds, with holes in my shoes and holes in my pants and a few holes in my head, as i puttered off into the early morning scrubbing at the day’s stubble with sleep tearing holes from the scars i was using for eyes, telling time by streetlights. i had a certain tunnel i used. they didn’t run trains through it no more, and it was closed off, but i got myself in there, and there i could be alone. i’d lie low in the worried weeds and juniper shrubs, underneath a decade’s worth of graffiti and fifty-years’ soot, cuddled by a threadbare sleeping bag, spasming and seizing and grinding away my teeth, vomiting between the ties and tracks, losing what was left of my mind. nobody knew where i was, which was exactly where i wanted to be just then. sometimes places just find you. i blew smoke up the ass of what was left of the world. a girl found me that night at eddie’s though. her breath was gin. her mouth was oleander and mint. her eyes flashed like new pennies, and her hips swayed and took care of the rest. the damn best pair of legs i’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. she was something to be lost in, and i was, and there was nothing else i could do but think about her. in all this scabbed-up place in my head where it used to just read empty or out for lunch, well, this gal comes around with her paprika and turmeric lips and mushes up all my thinking like that, so she’s taking up all that space there, and there’s nothing i’m going to know about anymore except her. the music in her name sang me to sleep. the tunnel wasn’t so empty or unused anymore. i left them boys in the backroom of eddie’s, and this girl she messed me up pretty good. i’m not one to go on about blame. i know what i done. i know why i done it. sure. the preacher goes on about forgiveness, about getting my self straight with my maker and all the likes. but i know what’s what when it comes to equality between the genders, when it comes to who’s running the show and putting placemats on your sensibilities. boring summer afternoons have probably killed their good share of us, when it’s getting on into the twilight’s dimming shine but not quite carving out gold yet, and you sit there and you think dumb dumb dumb dumb, and it’s all you’ve got, just this spoon-fed domestication that leaves you sapped and worm-headed, this monotonous now, this dull heavy thing that hunkers down and doesn’t wonder. what’s next is what is and what you’ve got is on and on and on. the nice things play themselves out, and then you find yourself stealing candy bars from the drugstore just to have something besides this blah that is becoming the blah blah blah of your every gesture. ordinary things don’t add up. you want silent trash trucks. you want burgundy rubber bands. you want to rescue choking victims in sad cafes. you want night to come and throw its starry blankets all over you. i sit here and i wait, just like i’ve always done. i’ve got real good at waiting. well, at least that’s one thing i’ve got good at. the sun’s fixing on setting low and lovely just above them hills over yonder i bet, up a piece where we used to hide our bottles tied to ends of ropes thrown down the well. well, now, i just shouldn’t go on thinking about such things. it won’t do much good. all i’ve got is this body shackled to this thick wooden chair, and it’ll soon not house me no more. the texture of the wood’s grain under my fingers is familiar, rough and even, like a good baseball bat fresh off the lathe. i dig my fingernails into the arm’s lacquered slick skin, and they nestle and crook into an almost damp softness. the preacher man says repent. he tells me to accept jesus as my personal savior. and i want to do this very much. i want to make him feel good about what he’s doing with his life, what he’s chosen to do with his time here on earth. i pray for him. i pray inside. i don’t let him know it. he white-knuckles his bible and pulps his eyeballs, arching his head back, deep in the need of needing. i know that feeling. that unendurable want to have something bigger and better than yourself, something to save you, something to make you wise up and start living better, something that floats and lifts and hugs you back to safety. the preacher tells of trespasses and i forgive him his and mine and everyone’s. i breathe in deep and hold it and hold it and hold it, and i swear juniper’s gone wafting through here. but hell, the candles around these parts all burnt out long ago. hallowed be thy name, father who art, where? where? well i’ll just go on and assume the worst of what’s best the best i can, just like i always done. finally it’s all going to stop. it’ll all be no more and so will i. i breathe in this breath forever inside of me and never let it go, and never let it go, and never let it go.