That you have to say preclude
Means you don’t get it.

“Transgressive”: same thang.

I hate the bumpkin
For nodding their heads to the middle-managers,

But I also love them and hate the middle-managers.
Look at me,

Acting like I don’t want to
Own a little piece.

Alexandria is not a map
Or a Lagrange Point

Just like my friend who is called a “woman hound,”
Which seems so much worse.

His place is too clean
But he shakes your hand,

He brushes his stomach
Like the rest of us

When he has to stand-up,
When he has to play pool.

(He doesn’t know I am his friend yet).

Pitbulls scare me no matter
How many legs they have.

“He saved him
From the side of the road.
Isn’t that great?”

For you, there’s no crying
Until the end.



Everything Is All Right

My Relationship goes
Excellent, thank you.

For instance, Alexandria does this:
Made a rubber mask of her face,
And has a less-interesting-woman wear the rubber mask.
She has a cigarette in her mouth-slot
And she won’t let me take a draw. Just lets the smoke out.

She cooks

Puff pancake—I am thinking of New Hampshire, maybe?
The pancake rises in the oven

Like a golden dome.
Then it breaks, like in revelation,
And we have this flatness that is sweet.

The less-interesting-woman t-boned my car
And tried to strangle me in the ocean—

With the rubber mask still on—but I know Alexandria,
We eat and eat breakfast,

She sees my green eyes with her greener eyes.
We have all this:

Her hands,
A ring on her left index finger.

Shakers never had sex but they built this
Great box to carry all our condoms.

Sometimes: the sunlight angles into her room (converted
From an old dining room).

I pretend we are in France, (but it is not black and white)
And we are each other’s sad-eyed Romans

Not Queequegs.

It is hard to imagine
Telling her what I imagined.

She is naked on mine and everyone’s examinations;
Someone else
Powders her face and puts her in a silver dress.

My throat is not torn, but I pretend otherwise, the mask

In a pond with some cut up flags of nations; 
There are “bards” playing folk songs over the water. They are so

Clear and concise,
Lyrical even.



The Priest’s Adventure

The Priest is back from last rites; he smells more like incense than whiskey, for once. He tells a joke: “two subalterns walk into a bar. The bartender says ‘PBR.’ That’s what they get because they cannot speak.”

For once, the Priest doesn’t say wocka wocka. When they cut him open, his belly holds a trinity.




The Leper buys cocaine
For us. I cut it up,
Take apart a Bic-pen,

I say: “I love cocaine
Because I have to watch myself
Snort it.”

The Leper says he loves cocaine
Because he looks
Like he has a mustache over the mirror.

He plays the pen in his mouth
Like a cigar.

Outside of the hotel bar
I make The Leper
Smoke with me.

Stay cool, man.

“The only way
This shit works
Is if I’m dead.”

The Sommelier says
Even the great Milton Berle
Died old. Jean-Michael

Basquiat is the only one
Who became Jean-Michael Basquiat
After death.

Maybe also:
Irving Thalberg, Jack Spicer,
Third-shift store clerks.


Let’s drink beer in Oklahoma again.
So we will.
We are drinking beers. No eurekas
Please, Oklahoma.


Me, The Leper, and The Sommelier eat
Cold ham, a potato, slices of cheese.
I feel like a cowboy.

Ain’t no yearning here,



Phil-EstesPhil Estes is the author of High Life, forthcoming from Horse Less Press and the chapbooks Slowjams (forthcoming from Living Arts Press), Children of Reagan, and Gem City/Fountain City (both from Rabbit Catastrophe). His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Diagram, Prelude, Sprung Formal, West Wind Review, and others. He lives in Shreveport and teaches writing at Louisiana Tech.