Scott Laudati, Pretend it’s Aspen

my bluest valentine

don’t bake me a birthday cake
this year.
let’s go to wawa and
buy a carton
of our old cigarettes
and drive to the poconos,
to the mini golf
where we made dirty bets
around the windmill
and both of us got a rash
that night from the
heart-shaped hot tub.
or we can go back
to your parents’ basement
with the wood paneled walls
and the one cold night
we laid under the heater
and you whispered
Pretend it’s Aspen.
let’s get married this time
like we swore we would at 17
when all we wanted
was to do drugs and fall in love
and we were still young enough
to be good at both.

the santa fe trail

you can read maps by starlight
in places i’ve been
and you sleep like shit
off the mexican beer
and wake up covered in bites
in hotels where
life is impossible
and everything still alive
wants blood.
did you know what you wanted
at the taco truck in dale hart?
do you know that there’s a
whole country out there
that doesn’t care about new york?
i do now.
i might know everything now.
i’ve drank from the shallow creeks.
i’ve chewed the tacos rellenos with
fire still in the seeds.
i looked up for god and every grackle
in the tree followed my gaze.
next time i’ll follow the trails in the sand
and the small streams will lead me to the window rock.
or maybe the other way —
to lay down in a graveyard
where desert rats use cow skulls as ashtrays.
and if the rains ever come again
maybe white petals
will bud up from my bones
and a lost rabbit can
spend a day
sleeping under my shade.

we’re half way there

they promised me it was over
but it never ended
it just got worse.
and the shifts went longer
and the aliens flew away
and the u-boats swam home
and nothing good ever happened.
the chickens got fat
and america dropped the blinds on the nightmare
plaguing everyone who never made it off
the sacred rock,
the one all great greats sailed here from
when the sun still set
on another empire.
and the lucky ones learned
you don’t look back
when it’s all on the line,
you buy a happy meal
and drive to death
in a ’99 toyota camry
while singing the chorus of
livin on a prayer

Scott Laudati lives in New York with his Chiweenie, Drake. He is the author of Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair (Kuboa Press) and Bone House (Bone Machine, Inc.). His work has appeared in the Columbia Journal, The Stockholm Review, and many others. Visit him on Instagram @scottlaudati

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