shadow

Dose

Surely other guys measured
the dose against
their weight, sketched rough
calculations on American history dittos
in margins beside Malcolm X’s
by any means necessary, purple
and grainy from so many
duplications. Easier to tell myself

another stoner stood
in the hygiene aisle an hour earlier
flanked by Nyquil and Triaminic
comparing Coricidrin to Robitussin, vigilant
as a new stepfather. Maybe he fake-coughed
for the CVS girl to justify
three boxes. And maybes

scroll on like this in hoards, grim
crusaders, swords drawn at the peasant’s throat.
All I know is how I gagged, fifth
mouthful washed down with Budweiser,
pacing the dull hour for neck tingle,
antihistamine itch. Dextromethorphan, finally
its warm creep and behind the dorm

three coeds cackling drunk, blurred forms
through the checkered screen
all stumble and breast. Telegraphy
of heels on wet asphalt, Annville
drowsed with fog—another party,
couch and trashcan heave, who knows
what floor they’d snore on. Behind them
Funkhouser’s double doors slammed like shields

against a skull. Clammy, lurching
toward the turntable, needle and groove again:
Sly & the Family Stone at Woodstock, blessed
procession for the stoned, gonna take ya
higher and the Middletown train
above the feedback squall, vermilion
sparks from its lockjaw rails,
its squealing cars of coal a snake of rust.

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