poetry and poets

Saturday, March 19, 2005

louie armstrong of the colonias

louie armstrong of the colonias
tony gallucci

Okay. Okay. I walked down Sycamore Street after 10 p.m. I should have been in bed. In the comfortable room with the green curtains and the green tiles picked out when we built the comfortable young lawyer's house after the new job in the old hometown after a lifetime away at school and war and school again. Or curled up next to dad on the black Naugahyde couch in the living room, watching, waiting for the late news, wisdom of the Valley day, belted out Louie Armstrong of the colonias to us, the TV idling under the family heirloom ebony Virgen de la Guadalupe and the carved rosary from Torino who knows how many generations ago. But I wasn't. Without permission I wandered the dark streets of the neighborhood, watched houses with lights on, ablaze, moths on kitchen screen-doors, from some the dizzy blue of black-and-white television throwing ghosty shadows on frail strings of gauze curtainry. Drunk shadows on the walls reclining in old chairs. Snores in bass, tenor sweet good-nights, alto squeals of night in the night. The walking from room to room, blankets pulled up tight under chins, pats on the butt, whispered wishes for the daylight only a wished-for now, the moment now gone, forever gone. The silence-not silence of the night waiting-not waiting for the promise of stolen secrets, the danger of mask-no mask, the wall of young confusion. I eyed dark houses, the old, the away, the bored, the neanderthal, some boarded up, cars secured behind garage doors, or dark save for the welcome-not welcome of the porch light, the sleep-not sleep of the german shepherd on the sidewalk, the tink-tink-tink swidda-swidda-swidda tink-tink-tink of all-night rotating sprinklers, the wisp of gauze flitting out of ever-so-slightly raised bedroom windows, aroma of couples in bed, asleep, cuddled, old, young, pretending to be one or the other, or maybe are, not knowing, but knowing the smell like knowing the trouble you're in by the smell of the fear that slaps you in the face when you open the back door after midnight lost in time and faint lights and open windows.

Published online in Doorknobs & Bodypaint #29, 2003