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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 76-77
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Late Night Talk Radio, Albuquerque, and: Behind My Ear is a Little Palace in Broad Daylight
Late Night Talk Radio, AlbuquerqueEach night, a drunk or Jew, a poor
schmuck is stuck in calamity and dramatized
à la The Lone Ranger by Chicago's
Pacific Garden Mission. Still, "Unshackled"
is more soothing than the paranoid
who peddles survival water pellets and bug
detectors at a slightly higher frequency. Or
the connect-the-dot melodics
of alien sightseers, and worse,
the liberal bashers' cacophony. It's
all against me across the dial – radio
has yet to progress from black & white. Maybe
I would get some sleep if I accepted Jesus
as my personal savior. In the dark I'm drawn
to stories even though I know
the end from the beginning, this cop
(to the swell of organ music) saves
the believer by changing
his testimony the day after
God wrestles him in sheets. Or Hyman
Applebaum, the evangelical pastor
who finds peace despite exile from my tribe.
I'll tell you a secret.
I sometimes try on Christianity
at 1:58 am, still fish-hooked
to consciousness, and squirming.
So far Christ hasn't risen
to the bait and, feeling vaguely guilty
at casting my lot
with the majority, I switch off [End Page 76]
the radio and move on to
remodeling my house in my head
or replaying a movie or imagining
leaves gently floating toward
snow, and the next thing
I know I'm waking up, having
no memory of being abducted
by sleep, emerging from
a cleansing static, as if from a prayer.
Behind My Ear is a Little Palace in Broad DaylightNaturally I think of Him when she taps the needle into the top of my foot. So this is the oft-spoken-of willingness to be pricked on a deity's meridian, blood beading up waxy like a bindi. Under my skin, I picture migraine demons growing frantic as steel pokes through a pore. Godzilla looms over Tokyo. Dr. Li posts a lightning rod on the top of my head as if she were a pilgrim to the North Pole. This is where pain pools after commuting from my neck in tiny axiomatic taxies. Listen. Behind my knee, the universe hums in its velvet bag. Through my wrists, a pulse shimmers with electric eels. I imagine leaking out through the needles, diffusing into the little room papered in Chinese music. Imagine sleep gently tacked to the table like a beetle specimen. How dream minions shriek and scatter when Dr. Li returns, bursting into the dark. I have not yet been resurrected I want to proclaim but she is already extracting that desire. Seven times she carries the needles, like offerings, to the red box. Traffic outside is relentless. She says go home little godling. Put on your socks.