In the Red Vinyl Booth of the Horseshoe Cafe

By Carol Tiebout

We traded Harvey Wallbangers, Velvet Hammers, and straight-up tequila, kicked
Nixon and Agnew around and came up with a board game
about Camp David that would use lacquered walnut shells and peas as markers.

When the acid slid in, clipping all the edges in clear light, we fell out into
the late-night street now stuffed with one hundred thousand points of
cool fog that wrapped the curbs and thinned under the lamps

into a series of three-foot worlds. A drunk appeared below us, limbs curled up waving
like a crab that had been tossed onto its back from its rocking bed to hard granite while
still holding the comfort of the sea. He looked up at me

with baby-kissed blue eyes and asked, “Are you an angel?” I thought for a moment
maybe I was, maybe in the realm of infinite possibilities, it could be there on certain
Tuesdays, my name in the index of Alan Watts’ book under A.

Fifty years later the sky opens up, raindrops the size of cats singing
the hood of my car as it curves past the turnoff to town
and in a loud whooosh, deafening as a splashdown, I no longer

understand why I would hold back any longer from
whatever walks into this minute
from the deep seams of the world.


Carol Tiebout lives in Edmonds, WA on the traditional land of the Salish Coastal peoples. Her poetry can be found in Calyx Journal of Art and Literature and on the American Jewish Society website. She is the winner of the 2022 Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition for poetry. Her poetry is informed by seventeen years of work with hospice.

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