October 8, 2008

the wind worked overtime and
brought her scent overseas

Fernando Botero, Abu Ghraib 56, 2005

Bandini’s Disco Usufruct
-- by Dennis Mahagin

At the end of the world, every jukebox-- stuck
with only one selection left, so they punch it in, this boy
and girl, the very last lovers in an abandoned bowling
alley on Venice Boulevard.

A cherry-colored vinyl disc drops
in the stylus slot, and out comes an echo shot of chamber
strings and muted Strat—my God it’s Barry White!
--and he begins to sing:

"My darling I … can’t get enough of your love…"

Nothing amiss here, really, at the end
of the world, our boy and his girl show
no fear—in fact shortly they get busy
tossing a bright-blue Frisbee back and
forth across the abandoned bowling alley,
with strobe lights splashing on all the walls
like paint balls, and the mechanical Pin
Sweeper - Slash - Spotters in high gear,
chomping at the bit for those pins, retracting
and then attacking like prurient skeleton jaws
with freshly grinning dentition every fourteen
seconds, plus all the hand dryers going off
at once, heavy, heavy breath, and big black
bowling balls coughed from the Return Chutes
like lurid tongues… The boy grins, and spits
in his palm, then tosses the Frisbee—it arcs like a knuckleball
across ten lanes, buffeted on some mysterious pocket of convection;
he watches his girl skirt gutter ball troughs with long loping
deer strides and bunny hops, her eyes locked on the bright
blue prize, and when she hauls it in, she lets out
a little squeal, while Barry White cries:

"I don’t know I don’t know -- I don’t know why—"

This boy, he’s damned

well aware he’ll never get it quite like
this, ever again, after all it’s the end of
the world, those slanted skylights that frame
the bowling alley are all stained purple and
rust-red from the blood mist contagion,

not to mention those creatures out of doors who
look like Jan-Michael Vincent in the movie Buffalo 66,
goner guys with tarnished steely eyes like pin balls and
wheezing breath, they’re dying to tell the whole world
about their still-fervent needs and wants, if their forebrain
fonts weren’t dried up like L.A. river in December,
with synapses that yet somehow retain squatters’ rights
in the cranium—stubborn

as a diapered John Fante in front of AMX
Mar Vista Bowl on Venice Boulevard, John

Fante the Scrivener, absolute idol of Henry Chinaski, utterly
blind and limb-less from the diabetes, dictating another Bandini
novel that grows in his mind while some flesh-eating bacteria
climbs the bridge of his nose—John Fante with bowling shoes
strapped to his weeping stumps, tin beggar’s cup nudged
and humped by a darkly-stained crotch that’s spreading…

"Listen," the girl breathes, hard, at
her boy’s back, snaking her silken hands
beneath his shirt, sliding them up to cup
his pectorals, "you’ve never even told me
your hat size..."

The boy grins
again, and goes: "Hey, I realize that, baby but
CHECK THIS OUT!"... He breaks free
of her embrace, he aims his Frisbee
at a fresh set of pins on Lane Ten, then whips
that disc hard as he can, it whistles on a low line, striking
the head pin dead on the stripe, as if to decapitate a
honking-ripe Mallard duck. This pin spins, it totters, and
wobbles a bit, then after nearly half a minute
topples to the hardwood!—monkey-wrenching
the mechanical pin sweeper device in mid-rake; it lurches
there, stuttering, agape and then not—in the mouth
of the alley at the end of the world… Outside

the wind begins to howl,
while a lone jukebox
breaks it down-- one
more time how it’s "not

enough baby it’s just not
"…Our boy kisses
his girl’s ear lobe, whispers
her name… My darling I…

--and the scars hiss
and crackle

in the vinyl, as flame.


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