had given a reading at Books and Coffee, a bookstore
whose title speaks of solid integrity, and, as usual, had met some interesting
people. I had a headache from the heat and dehydration of the drive and
took a pill I thought was ibuprofen. In the middle of my reading I started
cracking up. My knees and jaw turned to rubber and I began extemporizing
what I thought was a sonnet: When
I get blown in Albuquerque / Get me a Pabst and a stick of beef jerky.
Dirk helped me offstage
amid wild applause. I remember the reading he gave seemed like a
film sped up. I blinked and then it was over and they were helping
me to the car. I had a copy of Wuthering Heights I had either bought
or stolen or received as a gift and I wasnt sure
Then we were at a bar called Two Dollar Bills. We were with a couple
who I remember as a very large man with a beard who spoke little and had
a FUCK AUTHORITY t-shirt, and a tiny woman with big hair who talked excessively.
She smoked like a demon and she kept giving Scott more cigarettes. They
were having Long Island Iced Teas. I think someone ordered me a beer
so Id attract less attention. The place was crowded and there was tension.
Dirk and Scott and our two friends went off to throw darts, I think, and
I was propped at the bar watching a game on TV. I think it was hockey.
I remember a great big Budweiser clock above the bar and the minute hand was
moving so quickly I could watch its progression. A chipmunk next to me engaged
me in conversation. Im not sure I spoke back or acknowledged
him. It didnt matter. He may have taken my wallet. I discovered
it was missing the next morning. I woke up in the back seat of the car
my face flattened against cold glass and sunrise over the Manzano Mountains.
There was the remains of a campfire and a tent and Dirk in a sleeping
bag on a picnic table. I climbed out of the car and rubbed my limbs,
investigating for bruises and restoring circulation. Next to Dirk was
can of Pabst which cured what little hangover I had. I walked off to
I found out that the couple we had partied with, whom I had
taken for bikers, were also scouts for Norton. They were very
impressed by me, Dirk said; I had appeared very thoughtful, and they had
signed some kind of deal with me for a book-length poem. I never found
out what I had signed, but we spent the advance they sent to Marla on one great
skydiving and gourmet food weekend
at a resort in Tahoe. We were on the road again by
noon, and had broken down by