Los Angeles, 1999
This was during the bloom of Y2K panic:
the girl in the pencil skirt drank chartreuse,
its eerie green glowing in the flickered
light tossed and retossed from the red candle
in the center of the crowded table.
Years before the young actor had seized up
on the sidewalk outside this greasy club
but no one talked of River anymore.
Where there are vipers there is always sleep
and where there is sleep there is forgetting.
The olive at the bottom of her glass
languished without the dry vermouth and gin,
drained by the unemployed bass player
moments before. “Belladonna,” he’d said,
“isn’t for dreams. It’s used for solutions.”
She imagined solutions suspended
in laboratories across the Valley
where her problems floated like lemon garnish
in so many drinks in so many bars
not so different than the one right here.
A voice from the kitchen cut through the din,
laughing, something about the Rio Grande,
crossing it hard and still surviving drought.