Four Poems | Michael Brockley

Aloha Shirt Man sings Rosalita, jump over the lion

while he walks his German shepherd toward Halloween. He’s trapped in a mondegreen prison where he a capellas ain’t no woman like the one-eyed Gott and all the lonely Starbucks lovers. In this detour through cities built on sausage rolls, he is born again in a Chelsea stable, wrapped up like a dude, another runner in the night. A virgin touched for the thirty-first time. Back in ’55, we were makin’ fun that hurts, he brags to to his dog which snuffles at the possum scat in the yards they pass. Aloha adds I don’t give a damn about the same old plate of cheese. He’s spinning the trouble wheel, losing those things he found down in Lucky Town. Aloha no longer needs permission to chase penguins. And he passed the wino down the road the first time he had one of these spells. Back when he saw bra straps shining in the sun. There aren’t any rules for a man who makes love like a pool boy who’s returning home with his dog on the threshold of All Hallows Eve, even if he swears you ain’t no pornographic and you ain’t no friend of mine. A man caught in the frenzy of having his first real sex dream in the summer when he was five won’t be just anyone’s turtle lover tonight.


Cento Credits:

“Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

“Blank Space,” Taylor Swift

“Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got).” Four Tops

“We Built This City,” Jefferson Starship

“Angels We Have Heard on High,” Christmas traditional

“Blinded by the Light,” Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

“Like a Virgin,” Madonna

“Making Thunderbirds,” Bob Seger

“Badlands,” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

“Spinning Wheel,” Blood, Sweat and Tears

“Lucky Town,” Bruce Springsteen

“Chasing Pavements,” Adele

“Stairway to Heaven,” Led Zeppelin

“Boys of Summer,” Don Henley

“Glory Days,” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

“Hound Dog,” Elvis Presley

“Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams

“Turbo Lover,’ Judas Priest

Forty Stands: From a Photograph at the Garfield Park Photography Exhibit, Indianapolis, Indiana, April, 2012; Nine Years after the Woman Who Never Wanted to Appear in Your Poems Left


The taxi with the advertisement stenciled on its bumper is parked in the sepia limbo between black-and-white and the dawn of colors. Beside it, a Texaco gas pump teeters on its rust-stained base. The service bell silent. The fine print beneath the ad guarantees the locals an available sedan to and from anywhere within the city limits. The words are faint. Unlike the “ELLOW” visible across the passenger door. The beginning letter obscured by the fuel pump. A crossword puzzle bereft of its clue. The cab, a Ford Fairlane, faces a closed garage door. The fading paint on the building matching the dull sheen of the car. One flat tire. Bunched against the foundation of the garage and beneath the wheels, corsages of umber leaves. The exhaust pipe missing. A russet shadow shifts under the carriage where too many scavenger hunt treasures were hidden. And never found. Behind the cracked window, a St. Christopher medal hangs from the rearview mirror. A blurred driver ID clipped to the visor might have belonged to the ex-fluoroscope salesman. Or the undertaker’s son, the one who always finished last at the summer’s demolition derbies. Tucked under the lone windshield wiper, a business card offers an obituary with a ride home from anywhere in town.

Highway 61 Incident

The man with the blue guitar changes a rear tire on the naked woman’s pickup truck. The nude descending a staircase had been driving north on Highway 61 until the blowout. The man with the blue guitar is puzzled by the way her face flickers in the corners of his eyes. Like the motion of luck fleeting at the periphery of life. As the man unfolds himself to work the jack and crowbar, the nude lowers her legs to the running board. Then jumps onto the shoulder of the road as the guitar man replaces the shot tire with the spare from under the bed. He hums a song about an island woman in a red dress; the woman of cubes wonders how his frayed denim shirt would feel draped around the squares and rectangles of her skin. The man with the blue guitar is famous for love songs about Tahitian women. Lyrics lush with papayas and mangos. Steel chords clinging to the humid air like a rain of orchids. The Pacific breaking waves over the sands of his voice. She aches for a song to celebrate the drama of her entering a ballroom au naturel: he keeps his eyes focused upon his task. Tightening lug nuts. Securing her property in the bed. Chore accomplished, he re-enters his cab, flicks the left turn signal and U-turns to merge with traffic behind a semi hauling lumber. He thinks of a topless woman emboldened by a bowl of fruit. Of tanned women diving into a lagoon. In his rearview mirror, the nude shimmers in her copper heat. Hours too late, near a rest stop south of Memphis, the mahogany flash of billboards hastens him toward his next one-man show.


Wile E. Coyote at the Holiday Inn Lounge

I wore moccasins the first time I found myself on the dance floor on Route 66 outside of Romeoville. The lead singer of the house band taught his guitarists the chords to ”Bad to the Bone” to shut down a heckler’s request. Everyone smoked Camels. All the men wore Stetsons. My first dance partner stepped on my feet but years of running across the Mojave Desert had hardened me to the awkwardness of busting a move to “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.” I wore baggy fringe jackets then. And homburgs with exotic feathers in the hatbands. As the night wore down, I leaned into the perfume of the darlings I met while the combo meandered through “Against All Odds.” During the breaks I drank whiskey sours, while I tapped my feet to the disco Muzak the motel piped in from the check-out desk. All those ACME anvils dissolved when I stepped onto the dance floor. When the band broke through the lounge act cliches to rustle “Authority Song” or “Sixty-Minute Man.” I twirled the spitfire-of-the-night on the tip of my gloved paw, whispering my game plan until I waltzed her through the strobe lights as I wooed her with “I Saw You First.”

Photo by Sean Foster on Unsplash


Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana where he is looking for a dog to adopt. His poems have appeared in Last Stanza Poetry Journal, Down in the Dirt, and Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Art of Bob Dylan. Poems are forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Marrow Magazine, Of Rust and Glass, The Parliament Literary Journal, and RockPaperPoem.

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