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SCENES FROM AN ALTERNATE LIFE – XV

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broke the routine, packed a bag we left the Atlantic in our wake so I could show youa Kansascoal mining townthe dead grass out past the city limits such a prettypair to gray and with each breath you took, the despair took home in your lungstold your blood the stories buried in the earthwith the boys who went down one dayand kept walking all the way to the centerlike Portuguese whalers,their loved...

SCENES FROM AN ALTERNATE LIFE- XIV

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do you remember the day you picked me up in your dying Nissan truckFela Kuti’s Question Jam Answer playing three quarter speed in the tape deckand I told you I didn’t think I’d ever be able to write again and that even if I could, nobody would buy it you held my hand and told me it would be alrightI asked—”you mean I’ll write again?”even if you don’t we’ll be okay for a month I couldn’t...

Scenes from an Alternate Life – XIII

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we went through the double doors, told the woman at the cash register who we wereas though our names themselves were badgesmaybe she believed it because we believed it, too. Conroy counted the empty chairsThere’s a balcony, too. I smoked grass up there the night Bob Seger came to townand so I went, the Exit sign the only thing giving light to stairswhile I hummed Against the Wind  in the echoes...

SCENES FROM AN ALTERNATE LIFE – XII

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it was then, holding my book for you to see, the crumbs of a club sandwich on my shirt—a vague familiarity I couldn’t place radiated out from my heartor maybe I’d stood up too fast, butdidn’t I know you from somewhere?Is this your first? you asked, taking 324 pages of my life in your hands when you told me you were an artist I became self-conscious of the covertried to see the colors and the...

Scenes from an alternate Life – XI

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you took Conroy all the way south to Boston showed him your art on museum walls until the life left your lungs taking deep breaths in search of ancient Parliaments stuck to canvasdesperate for inspiration from an old parlor trick we met, for the first time, next door in a deserted diner built for 70three of us, tucked into the back corner, the two of you at a tableand me, shrunk over a weathered...

Scenes from an alternate life – X

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the day my agent called with the newsI was hanging sheet rock in a Jersey City duplex, my lungs coated in dustthe sweat soaking through my only clean shirt and Marshall Tucker on the radio we went out drinking that night – my recently divorced boss who hated his ex-wife and measked if I’d ever read Michener, said how much he loved Michenerwhen we got to the parking lot a few minutes after...

Scenes from an alternate life – ix

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I packed everything I owned into a dying Chevrolet the day I graduated from collegesixty seven miles an hour as I rattled across the border, Kansas in the rear view mirrorenough gas money in my wallet to make a New Jersey junkyard rest stop sleep and gas station sinks, I kept my toothbrush on the dashtaking notes for a novel I felt important, but could never see clearlyeverything a constant...

SCENES FROM AN ALTERNATE LIFE – VIII

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there you were, in the fall of 1991, barefoot in a Brooklyn gallerybrush clamped between teeth while a line formed on the other side of the doorunknown and unsure and unconcerned about the madness to follow you kept the photograph—an artistic black and white, low contrast—on your bedside tablea compass point for early mornings, to remind you of what happened and what was only a dream a thousand...

SCENES FROM AN ALTERNATE LIFE – VII

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You drew the map, tracing time by the species we becameas we foraged the savannas of our youthon continents unbothered by tremors and drift I have not forgotten the games we played in the presence of creator gods,their teeth bared at the threat over my shoulder, whileyou rolled through tall grass, naming the dangers like the constellations and I was always nervous with the way you danced,in awe...

SCENES FROM AN ALTERNATE LIFE – VI

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the first night at sea I wondered where I might run ashoreshipwrecked in international waters intent on survival slowing down with an intentional drag of the hand in chop when we were alive in the time of Panthalassathe continental puzzle affixed in a boxyou asked if I’d ever seen so much water when we were alive in the time of Da Gamahigh on cinnamon and scurvyyou asked if I’d ever seen so much...

Ben

Ben LeRoy is spirit trapped in the 21st century on Earth. Someday he will be somewhere else. Until then, he's glad to know you're out there, too. And later elsewhere he will be glad to know you're out there, too.