The Disappearing Quasar, by Scott Slisbe

It could stay like this for hours or it could all vanish in an instant.
July ball in a rain delay, juke speakers pumping out some E.L.O.,
the loud drunks behind us asking each other how fast clouds travel.
We talk jazz with the woman tending bar at The Shamrock Inn
and she says, “I don’t like it when they fly.” Tells us Chet Baker
was the first trumpeter to ever play and sing. When we ask her
about Louis Armstrong, she says, “I never really cared for him.”
And I like that—that our opinions of things can change history.

Today may just be the day. I’m watching the sweat on her beer
and an old Motown song comes on—one with a key change that
always makes my brain burn a little. Jay leaves, saying he has
to go see a man about a dog, but he’s speaking in code, I think.
I say, “I’m sorry I missed it, but I’m glad we got documentation.”
We decided that it might be time to ease off the pedal a little bit.
Mark said Frank’s a fan of our stuff, but Frank’s in the minority.

Because of the weather, it seems there are many things to be done.
Some go to an alleyway in Garfield for a summertime soul party.
Some go down to the overpass to watch the cars on the freeway.
I wish I could go to a nursery and sit among plants sipping a brew,
listening to a friend play old Roky Erickson or Beach Boys tunes
and musing on the disappearing quasar I learned about on the radio,
but I’ll head south to the auction to hunt down books on guns in Moon.
Last night gun books haunted all of my dreams—Shots Fired in Anger,
A Rifleman Went to War, In the Gunroom, The Rifle & How to Use It.
When I tell my boss about my gun book dreams, he says, “My life.”



Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit and now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems and prose have appeared in numerous periodicals including Third Coast, Nerve Cowboy, Chiron Review, The Chariton Review, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He is the author of two poetry collections: Unattended Fire (Six Gallery Press, 2012) and The River Underneath the City (Low Ghost Press, 2013). He was also a finalist for the Cultural Weekly’s 2014 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize. He is currently at work on a new collection of poems.

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