An ashtray with cigarette butts

A Very Good Year

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 “soft summer nights / We'd hide from the lights”
--Ervin Drake, "A Very Good Year"
Was it then that I learned pupils dilate with psychedelics?
I remember looking with fascination at friends’ eyes
dancing my fingers before them as if I could what? Lead
them? Confuse them? Hypnotize them?
Was it then when I redefined friendship and realized
that, okay, I’m not a good friend. I am an asshole.
I am the one who is all smiles when I’m kicked out
and looking for a place to stay.
My memory is not so good. I can’t tell you the first
time I dug my fingers through an ashtray
at the Pfister Hotel, trying to blend in with the clientele
or vanish into the marbled walls, into restrooms with piped
music (When I lost my virginity, I remember that, I was clean
and wasn’t sure it happened. So clean. Had it happened?)
Was it then, at seventeen, when I fell in love with every boy
or girl or man or woman who smiled at me?
Who remembers seventeen? I have a hard time remembering
last week. Now, I wave my fingers before my eyes to what?
See what ails them? See what ages them? To soothe myself.
To see where I could lead myself.

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