When the repo man came for the Malibu
he couldn’t have noticed
the tuft of hair caught in the trunk lid.
He could have been distracted that night
by the refractions of the Aurora Borealis
or the boozy harmonies of the barbershop quartet
rehearsing in a garage off the alley.
He might have been startled
by the sputtering streetlight
reflected in the baby moon hubcap.
He couldn’t have known his wife was missing,
or his girlfriend,
along with the tire iron from his truck.
Later that night at the diner,
he saw the patrol car pull into the lot,
heard the waitress call his order to the cook,
“Put out the lights and cry”
and “mystery in the alley.”
Sentenced to life, every night thereafter
he’d lie awake trying to remember
the northern lights above the mercury lamps,
the voices singing “You Tell Me Your Dream,
I’ll Tell You Mine,” trying to smell
the liver and onions, reliving his history
as short order hash on the side.
Editor’s Note: This poem opens and closes with repeated imagery, creating an emotional framework as the narrative moves from one moment to an unhappy future.