Three Voice Roulette At Ghostly’s ~ Christopher Howell


I have thought so many times of her beautiful hair,

he said,

and of how she lay in light like a rose after

the rain,

and of how she moved in the world as though the world

were water

and she perhaps the wind.


He held the gun to his temple and looked up at something

that might have been passing.

Then he said, I saw her once years later in this very bar

she came right out

of a broken juke box and sat beside me and gave me her soft

invisible hands.

Welcome, she said, to the country of glass



Then he had time enough, looking straight

at me, to pull the trigger six times

and put the gun

away.  How beautiful she was with that hair shining like dark

silver, he said,

like a nickel plated loss of meaning with six empty chambers

or a song you play and play

until the juke box breaks and the other customers depart

and the publican

locks up and switches off her bright green eyes.



And she said, so then he just sat there, remembering my hair and looking

right where he supposed I might be.

I had the impulse to touch his arm and make him cry out and shiver.

But what use?  We lose everything, in the end, anyway,

everything we had and everything we didn’t.

I might have told him that

there is no bourbon in the afterlife, just as in life there is no place

to hide

our pitiful treasures, even when, like me, they don’t exist.



Sometimes, he said, I think she still talks about me.  I can hear


sometimes, after hours when suddenly death’s memory leans

against the bar

and writes, My friend, my beautiful friend, in the dust

and there’s this semblance

of voice

urging an old truth toward the door, which, of course,

is locked.