His accent curves through gaps where teeth once were. And we smoke illegal cigarettes in order to challenge the air of this cold October wind. He reads Neruda as though we are in church. My knees want to bend. They want to repeat these prayers. They want to sing out Hallelujah. He stops to call himself a part-time convict and when I ask him if his voice is contagious, he says:
It’s Kentucky and Alabama and gritty from harmonica.
This Southern Baudelaire gets onstage and claims percussion, keys and tambourine. His lips press against metal teeth. He breathes into and out. Repetition of grit from voice and beat of conjoined instrumentals.
“In the trailer parks, that’s where I got my first scar.”
And then he lifts right arm, bare because his sleeves end just above elbow. He points to where his skin slurs. Between each song, he philosophizes. Then, announces a love song.
“This next one is about my ex-wife,” he stumbles out. “Don’t ever marry your Philosophy professor. Can’t cook needles for shit.”
And I am listening. Bookended by handsome poet wearing stolen cologne and visiting Canadian with chocolate and bourbon breath, smeared in own version of musical narrative. I am wrapped in scarf and false leather jacket with notebook gathering up the dust of what exists in this bar. Just noticing. Just listening. Just arriving in this drunk evening of moon, electricity and lust.