Paige Johnson

Office After-Hours 

Once the microphones have wilted, 
their laser targets disarmed dotless,
we lower from stuffy leather seats
to dusty floorboards and bean bags. 

Matches kiss candle wicks 
above blood-red mahogany, 
splattering the wall with mauve 
shadows for a friendly séance:
a meetup with old acquaintances
and enemies young enough
to find mutable, moldable. 

The crinkle of ketamine tablets
from pop-out rounds, the dig
of your long, pale fingers into
the abyss of your sable suit 
jacket, always arouses me. 

The rush starts in my heart
and heads south, like the
cells in my aorta are home-
ward bound cars on the 
Autobahn: opal speedsters.

Nobody’s as slick as you, though.
And I don’t mean the Brylcreem
part in your auburn locks or the 
starlit twinkle off your bezel head.
But the fluidity with which you pass
one tablet from tray to tongue,
from yours to mine like waves 
jostling a buoy back and forth. 

The taste should be TV static, 
cherry-peppermint La Croix,
but I only notice your cinnamon 
tin sweetness and toothpaste. 
What should overwhelm me is
the gaggy smell of baby powder 
and Rx glove oxidation from the
blister pack, but I only notice your 
cool water cologne, lint-rolled lapels,
their bursts of veranda-flower breeze.

If we keep our eyes squinted,
the room should transform
soon: from bookshelves,
storage blocks, and 
egg carton foam 
to volcanic sunsets 
from rice-paper windows, 
the exhilaration of entrapment 
in closed convenience stores, and
wall-carpeted step-down trip caves 
that trump ski lodges in cocoa coziness.   

If we keep our fingers threaded
while our mouths fill with moon water, 
we won’t feel so ashamed when the soggy 
rocks dribble out. Lunar larvae, you’ve dubbed it.
“Debris of the cerebellum that alter balance, took
away your natural lightness, springy space boots.” 

We reclaim it all in one ring around the midnight sun.

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