Packing Heat at the Tinder Box Lounge
(Interview With The Marlboro Man)
If you’ve never seen yourself up on the stage
wearing nothing but a holster and pasties
cigarette in one hand, gun in the other
singing “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”
to an audience of rowdy lesbians
then you just haven’t lived.
Some towns have it all—
and others, then some.
For a $5 cover and $2 beers,
Amateur Nite at the Tinder Box
is well worth your time.
Cheryl removes one item
at a time: gloves, spurs, shirt
chaps, boots and pants, then uses
her hat to play a little peek-a-boo
until she’s got the crowd’s attention.
It’ll be handed around for tips and numbers
once she takes her bow, deep from the waist
to let us admire the view.
Then there’s another Marlboro Woman,
and then a Garth Brooks, and then
a Ratso Rizzo flashing us the works
beneath her filthy overcoat,
followed by a Melissa Etheridge wannabe
in pleather jeans.
Later, Cheryl joins us at the bar
for shots, intrigued by the big-city types
on her turf, casting about for connections.
There’s a deadbeat girlfriend, food stamps,
couple of kids, nothing a contract
couldn’t fix, you know, if.
Leo glances at his watch.
Show you something, she says suddenly,
and snaps open the barrel of her gun.
But it’s too late—for her, for us,
for the ambition she’s spent a lifetime
striking dead matches against
in the hopes of raising a spark.
One of the tassels hanging from a pastie
brushes up against a scar.
I drain my beer, look for the door.
I got real bullets in here, Mister, she says.
Yup. Got me some real-ass bullets here.
Author Discusses Poems