The Velvet Night is the Warm Hand of Your Captor

—after We Rise on Sun Beams and Fall in the Night by Allen Ginsberg

Getting out of bed, you trip over
a mislaid martini glass,
then throw the curtains open
onto the motel’s empty parking lot.

The asphalt shimmers like a hot frying pan
under the late morning sky,
while a pair of sunbathers lay like marble statues
on cheap, plastic lounge chairs next to the pool.

With your fingers massaging the temples
that complain of yesterday’s bad decisions,
you stand like a washed-up & forgotten deity
in a beam of golden light.

You think you hear the low, rolling song
of a train moving in the distance,
but it is only wishful thinking.

The day is already backing away
into the naked wilderness.
Like the wisp of a dream,
it gets lost in the slow, imperceptible slip
of a life in decline.

It’s difficult to escape
the many dull mirrors that flank your room.
Arrested by your own
self-accusatory expressions,
you realize you’re surrounded from all sides.

Your face rises like a dust cloud
in every corner,
so you steal the car keys from a man
who is sleeping off Friday night
in the next room.

Driving into the deep vasculature of the desert,
into the bruised sunset, you feel
the vibrations of a thousand birds
beating anxious wings
beneath your flesh.
For a moment you aren’t going back,

but the velvet night falls
across your shoulders
like the warm hand of your captor—
it calls you home.

You turn back because there is
no other way.