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The last day of 2008 I woke
wearing the same blue shirt I wore
driving down through the pines
to hear Carlos Santana,
the hills a pale brown near Vallejo
where Bill Graham's helicopter crashed
in the power lines over the marshland.

The shirt hung on a shovel near Big Sur
smelling of almonds and sulfur
where I sat one morning reading Chuang Tzu
trying to understand about the Tao.
I wore it to feed Amy's chickens
and wrapped its loose arms
around my wife, who was smoking
outside by the mailbox, having swallowed
a fragment of glass in her coffee
the Advice Nurse said was most likely harmless,
trusting the colon's pulses to pass it
moment by moment.

We drove back north through Golden Gate Park
where an alligator once escaped
into the pond just off Lincoln Drive
and where Michael Bloomfield OD'd in his car
near the hall of flowers
and the Grateful Dead played for free.

We'd like to see them come back again,
the way Mickey Rourke showed up
at the Academy Awards interview
for his role as a broken-down wrestler
walking the two roads of grief and hilarity,
the cat's eye ring on his finger,
his silver tooth, his rat-goatee
and wraparound shades,
weeping into his water glass
mourning his dead Chihuahua:
I swear I'd give him the shirt off my back.

Joseph Millar

Blue Rust
Carnegie Mellon University Press

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