i should taste lava (for scott) by tj jude

 

man

i’m sorry
but
i’ve never been
a fan of
john prine
and it’s not like
you had a voice
to write home about
so the second time
i heard you sing
before listening
to you read
i found myself
wondering
how many damn verses
does this fucking song have
and does this guy really think
he can fuckin’ sing fer shit
’cause i beg to differ.

well, fuck me.

but that’s my story
so i’ve got to
stick with it.

rewind.

first time.

kc.
2009.
prospero’s.
s.a. introduced me
to the fat guy
in the red ball cap
with the big grin
and the oxygen tank.
s.a.’d already mentioned
guilt for letting him
have too much fun
but i reassured mr. griffin
like i fucking knew shit.
but the guy did look like
he was having a good time to me
and when s.a. introduced us
scott asked almost immediately
if i had a book he could buy
not knowing me from goddamned
adam.
turns out i did have a piece
of shit chap i’d printed at home
and had professionally stapled and cut
at fed-ex kinko’s
the night before the trip
when i finally admitted
i’d never finish it myself
on time or otherwise
and i gave one to him
and he asked how much
and i said something stupid
like, for you, man, nothing,
like i knew him from eve
plumb
bob
(stop it! goddamn,
you’d fart during
a moment’s silence!)
and then he grinned even wider
and clutched that thing to his chest
like it was fuckin’ worth something
the happy bastard
and then i wrote about him dying
by choking on s.a.’s mac ’n cheese
while watching virginian reruns
and god i’m glad it didn’t happen that way
but he took it the right way
like i expected him to
and then he tried to help me get something
into print
and the guy he recommended
didn’t even believe scott had referred me
but fuck it.
turns out i’m a little like scott in one way.
he said he was lazy as hell
when it came to that kind of shit
but he undoubtedly worded it much better
and i should have my mouth washed out with soap
but he said that people just came to him
when they wanted to publish something of his
and that’s how he ever got into print
and that figures.

plato should’ve had such a flock.

i’m butchering this
like i abattoir everything
but scott would know
the fucking words get in the way sometimes
if you let them
and he’d say you should never
and he didn’t
and he’d say you should dance a jig with ’em, boy
and he did
but i never had any rhythm.

fast forward.

second time.

toledo.
2010.
scott asked if he’d given me
one of his books yet
and i said no
and he tore the shrink wrap
off a fresh copy of
‘strange movie’
and he autographed it
‘thanks for dancing’
and he handed it to me
and as i was admiring it
john walz
the photographer
asked for a copy
and then asked how much
like any normal person would
and scott said twenty bucks
and dumbass tj
then figured he oughta quit
with all the fawning over
the professional book
with the mortensen names
and get up off his wallet already
all the while knowing
scott would’ve let ol’ jude leave
and never said a word
i’m sure.
and there were
three features that night
each running
longer than the last
with scott dragging up the
near-hour late rear
of this bardic magi
in inimitable fashion.
then again, who of us
or anyone else
who is honest
ever wanted to be
anything like the guy
in any way that
didn’t matter?
and even though i missed
more lines than i caught
the ones i caught
were worth those i missed.
sparky had me.
manufactured politicos
and b movie b actors
jigging at hoedowns
and hootenannies had me.
characters had me.
the goddamn music had me
and there was none playing
’cept that fuckin’ music
you claim is in all of us
and you tried to get me to hear
but i’m just tone deaf
is all
where you could
play the world
by ear.

scott disappeared
like so very much wall
beneath graffiti.

go ahead and rest
but not in peace.
what kind of hell
would that be for you?
no, strike up the band, sparky.
and, yes, i know that means
you’ll be singing some prine.

fuck it.

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