Ghetto Lions

Prose, including snippets (mini-memoirs).
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Ghetto Lions

Post by goldenmyst » January 4th, 2019, 1:53 am

Ghetto Lions

Paul’s friends gather into a sepia photograph like ghosts from a Fitzgerald novel wearing suspenders and dressed for the night. His partner from another life Ted meets him in a room full of tears where memories stalk his lonely hours. Their feet glide across the carpet while he carries a book to spark conversation with the spaces between them growing.

Ted’s sibling Sonny opens the door to brotherhood with Paul who teeters on the brink of monasticism. His buzz carries him through the threshold into the birth of a Jazz night in old New Orleans. But the chair of solitude embraces Paul in the arms of monkhood. Yet, Thelonious tap dances his notes from a vinyl record giving Paul the go, go fever.

Until a woman, next door to his neighborhood of space, who sits like a cat readying to get down, sends waves of recognition into his mad heart. She is June, Paul’s old flirt flame from the civil service job. But she may know of his floundering departure after getting a pink slip.

But her slip peeking pink and her boots give Paul a boost to cruise her sunset boulevard of nostalgia. Her glee becomes the smile of an angel. She catches Paul up to date on her office capers, how she was summoned to the department head’s office expecting the shine in his shoes to blind her with the spark of her job sun gone nova. But instead, he recruited her as a digital artist to paint the lovelies of the office golden like nymphs in a field of poppies. And Paul’s grail of a lady to wile the hours when swarmed by swamis is breathed into life with plenitude.

June and Paul live on the sidelines of the yuppiedom depicted in Hollywood blockbusters where people dream big but eat ramen noodle soup at night while drinking the broth to sustain them in their hungry hustle.

June and her old flirt from the data center don’t run with the pack. Hence they pair off together, drunk on courtship, as he is led by her down skid row. He is a sad-eyed prophet of gloom who topples imaginary kingdoms in his game of emotional chess. He never quite captures the king.

He hugs her, his angel of midnight dreams. His circus gaze gleams with madness wherein mirrored truths reflect in operatic illusion.

He is a gambler on love who found his touch in smoky dreams of his queen of hearts. His lucky streak is soon to be reborn in a whiskey flat apartment with his slum Madonna.

Paul breathes the scent of her perfume as she sashays beside him in her thrift store high heels. The tenement kids parade by like Mardi Gras in Christmas. Their wobbly feet carry them along with beer cans in hand.

June’s voice beckons him with prophetic urgency to take her hand. He trashed his idealism somewhere in the ninth ward. He gives up his hot mamajama fantasies for June’s stretch marks and love handles.

“I’m a jealous mistress. I won’t share you with another bitch. I ain’t bluffing. Now lay down your cards” she demands.

“My heart belongs to you” he antes up.

“Oh, you know how to make a girl swoon. But what a spooky night this is. Look in the shadows, Paul. I see ghosts everywhere. Oh, my flirty man. Let’s go to Bourbon Street and listen to some jazz. I know you don’t want to hear me babble on all night.”

“I gave up the Bourbon Street scene long ago. Let’s go home and read together.”

“Oh no, Paul, it’s Saturday night. Let’s go make love in the cemetery. We can find some soft dirt on a freshly dug grave.”

“What a creepy scenario. Let’s go back to the apartment. I’ll show you what a man I am. You won’t regret it. Graves are for the dead. Let’s let them rest in peace.”

“When I’m six feet under I’d like to think lovers will make love on top of me. It is a lovely thought. Don’t dismiss it so out of hand sweetheart. I know I’m loony, loco, cuckoo, bonkers, wacky, and have bats in the belfry. But follow me into the necropolis. Paradise lies in my arms.”

“Listen. You’re leading me down a twisted path. This lunacy will not transpire.”

“Oh, I love it when you get mad Paul. You are so aggressive. It turns me on. I feel like jumping your bones right here in the street.”

“I must admit the idea is enticing even charming. Let’s just walk in the direction of the graveyard and I’ll consider your proposal.”

“Now let’s head to the land of the dead. Who knows but that you may make me pregnant there? It is the circle of life, conception in a place of death.”

“You spook me but in a good way sweetie.”

“Look, there are the gates of the city of the dead. They’re open! Let’s find a nice spot. I brought a flashlight in my purse. Now I’ve got you where I want you. I’ll have my way with you.”

“I love your confidence. This place gives me the creeps.”

“Lay beside me right here. There you go. Are you comfortable?”

“I’m making the best of a strange situation. But I’m getting to like it some.”

“Look up at the stars sugar plum. There’s Cassiopeia. She was a vain queen in ancient Greek mythology. She boasted about her beauty. Do you think I’m vain? Am I stuck up about my beauty?”

“You have a lot to be proud of. You are drop- dead gorgeous. I don’t fault you for taking pride in your beauty. I am proud to be seen in your company.”

“You sure are rubbing me right tonight. Now I’ll rub you in my own special way.”

“What if the police caught us? That would be embarrassing. Let’s just talk.”

“Forsooth! I won’t force myself on you. What shall we chat about? I can’t imagine what that would be.”

“Hey, I got the cure for your blues darling.”

“Oh, Paul you have the right scratch for my itch.”

“Let’s have a picnic. I have some trail mix in my pocket. Let’s chow down.”

“You know you make it sound appetizing. I have a fondness for nuts and berries which rivals my need for sex right at this moment.”

“Yes, let’s start with peanuts and raisins. Great loves were born of shared food” Paul says.

June says, “Remember when I had you stand below me while I was on the ladder putting ornaments on the ceiling of the office hallway?”

Paul assures her, “Of course I do. I told you that my strong arms would ensure that no harm would come to you. You climbed up the ladder and reached to the ceiling with a Christmas decoration. Suddenly you fell into my arms. You rested your head on my chest and lay in my arms as the minutes went by. You know that fall didn’t look very accidental. Did you want me to save you?”

“Of course my knight, your he-man arms were perfect for my damsel in distress ploy.”

“What gave you the idea that state employment was a dating club?”

June says, “You know, they probably fired you because of our burgeoning office romance. Such things are frowned upon.”

He replies, “How did you expect me to feed the hypothetical family you proposed?”

“Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”

“You were the best thing I had going in that place. Besides, I got to be a resident poet on a six-month grant from the unemployment insurance agency.”

He strides across Elysian Fields Avenue while gazing up at the stars. She grabs his arm to steer him away from potholes. She is his messianic mistress who holds his hand. They dodge traffic in street crossings. Night enfolds them like Jesus’ tomb. She is his lady luck wild card in life’s madhouse poker game. They promenade on streets paved with old playing cards and broken whiskey bottles and jaywalk into sidewalk salvation.

She is the apple of his eye, arrayed in a red dress fantasy. Her cherubic cheeks blush pink as she says, “come play with me.”

“I love it when you talk like a courtesan to me.”

“You bring out the harlot in me Paul. I am proud to be your tart.”

“When you look into my eyes my dreamy world trades its fairy tale illumination, the ‘once upon’ magic, for the fiction of pages strewn with adult chapters where modern-day unicorns run wild. I am entranced by your corporeality” he poeticizes.

They arrive at her down and out apartment blues where he is filled with a hearty burgundy passion for her. June sits by her mirror as Paul combs her golden tresses. “Do you dig my flaxen hair?”

“You’re happy and free. I’m on cloud nine with you.” Her smile is elegant and puckish. He kneads her shoulders with his hands. Her eyes close in risqué reverie. June leads Paul by the hand to their warm bed.

Her lover woman arms enfold him in a spiritualist embrace. She touches stars into his skin to nestle them deep in his aching need. She feels his body sing to her trance beat. He dreams of Waltzing Matilda in her embrace for the rest of his days. Her tug pulls him into her Eden.

June peers into his eyes with dignity which says, “Hey don’t look away. I am your salvation. Seek none other than me.” And with her lilt, she tells him “I have been into the pit of hell and survived. You can too. Follow me.” And so she knows the bare truth of his sad eyes. She will take him into the heart of her suffering and lead him out stronger.

He holds her hands, those of women, who toiled in sweatshops, picked cotton until they bled, then with blistered fingers mopped and cooked, gathered water and wood, and bandaged the wounds of the same soldiers who pillaged her, rocked the cradle from dusk to dawn, who sold her body so her daughter wouldn’t have to come home with bloody fingers having worked at the textile mill into the night, but wasn’t allowed to touch the ballot.

June is in her roaring twenties and gasoline is only two dollars a gallon. These misfit cats roam the wasteland in search of Buddha’s relics.

But they find only a cheap apartment in New Orleans where their fingers do the walking on cat-walks of the mind which turn into the devil’s workshop, but blissfully so, to make a mockery of western civilization when kisses are beignets on a penniless night whose lip-smacking flavors come alive in a rebirth jazz set.

They kiss like lions who roam the ghetto. Poverty is their feast in a slum lord heaven. They lie together like Cupid and Psyche on a bed soaked with tears. But ambulance sirens howl in the wind while mercy is a police car headed into the night.

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Re: Ghetto Lions

Post by sasha » January 6th, 2019, 3:49 pm

Good to hear the sound of your voice again, John! Your style is so distinctive I would have guessed this to be one of yours even without your byline.
I'm not an outlier. I just haven't found my distribution yet.

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Joined: April 25th, 2008, 8:46 pm
Location: Bible Belt :(

Re: Ghetto Lions

Post by goldenmyst » January 11th, 2019, 11:35 pm

Thanks so much, Sasha! Good to know my signature style is that distinctive. Always grateful for your readership. :)


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