by Paul McQuade

The stars were splices of film: 
flickering out of focus, not there then
not there again in spools of 
magnesium. Beneath them,
seared holy into the night:
Gene Vincent, 
and The Girl Can't Help It.

It was
malt-shop success at first, of course, 
at first, but we needed dialogue
so we talked incoherent into our gin&tonics 
     (free-pouring rainwater, a flood of bright lemons) 
and smoked, because it was then, 
and we did not know 

just how poisonous we could be. 
Tendrils of smoke rose
into the aether, 
mingled with the silver light
until we were coiled, 
clasped tight, 
in a seaweed of smoke and mirrors. 

When you’re not you you’re the most
you you could ever be 
We watched as the scene darkened.
Vincent Price moulded wax.
You screamed, with a shudder, 
and your ortolan spine was so damn breakable on the red leather
that I had to bite my tongue to keep from doing it.