Mending the Bluebird of Happiness - Rewrite
Mending the Bluebird of Happiness
My friends gather into a sepia photograph like ghosts from a Fitzgerald novel wearing suspenders and dressed for the night. My partner from another life Ted meets me in a room full of tears where memories stalk his lonely hours. Our feet glide across the carpet while I carry a book to spark conversation with the spaces between us growing.
Ted tells me, “Amber looks lonely. Reading too much is bad for your marriage. Go talk to her.”
My sibling Sonny opens the door to brotherhood with me as I teeter on the brink of monasticism.
Sonny says, “Johnny, I second Ted. Don’t make Amber a literature widow. You two need quality time. Put down the book and exercise your vocal cords.”
My buzz carries me through the threshold into the birth of a Jazz night in old New Orleans. But the chair of solitude embraces me in the arms of monkhood. Yet, Thelonious tap dances his notes from a vinyl record giving me the go, go fever.
Until Amber sits next door to my neighbor-
hood of space. Amber and I live on the sidelines of the yuppiedom depicted in Hollywood blockbusters where people dream big but eat ramen noodle soup at night while drinking the broth to sustain them in their hungry hustle.
Amber whispers, “How many times have you read ‘Tender Is The Night?’”
I reply, “Maybe I should reread ‘The Great Gatsby’ for a change.”
“You are lost in the twenties. I remember when my Nawlin’s brogue was the Irish Cream in your coffee.”
“Honey, I don’t need whisky in my coffee with you.”
“Hey, there is gourmet wine on the refreshment table. Let’s drink a toast to Gatsby while we’re still in our roaring fifties.”
I say, “I’ll go you one better. Let’s get out of here and greet the man in the moon.”
Amber and I don’t run with the pack. Hence, this is why we pair off so naturally together, drunk on courtship, as she leads me down skid row. I am a moon-eyed prophet who topples imaginary kingdoms in my game of emotional chess. I never
quite capture the king.
I hug her, my angel of midnight dreams. My circus gaze gleams with madness wherein mirrored truths reflect an operatic illusion.
Amber chaperones me down the deserted streets. She says, “Hey, my hair is a mess. I forgot my brush.”
I reply, “Only the moon is watching and he doesn’t mind.”
I am a gambler on love who found his touch in smoky dreams of his queen of hearts. My lucky streak is soon to be reborn in a whiskey flat apartment with my slum Madonna. She strolls beside me in her thrift store high heels. The tenement kids parade by like Mardi Gras at Christmas. Their wobbly feet carry them along with beer cans in hand.
Amber’s voice beckons me with prophetic urgency to take her hand. I trashed my idealism somewhere in the ninth ward. “I’m a jealous Fräulein. I won’t share you with another belle. I ain’t bluffing. Now lay down your cards” she demands.
“My heart belongs to you” I ante up.
We stride across Claiborne Avenue while gazing up at the stars. She grabs my arm to steer me away from potholes. She is my messianic madam who holds my hand. We dodge traffic at street crossings. Night enfolds us like Jesus’ tomb. She is my lady luck wild card in life’s madhouse poker game. We promenade on streets paved with old playing cards and broken whiskey bottles and jaywalk into sidewalk salvation.
I poeticize, “When you look into my eyes my dreamy world trades its fairy tale illumination, the ‘once upon’ magic, for the fiction of pages strewn with adult chapters where modern-day unicorns run wild. I am entranced by you.”
She replies, “That is a mighty pretty poem. But let’s go home so I can straighten my hair. Then I will live up to your adulation.”
“Baby, I like your tresses tangled. It gives you the natural look.”
“If I get any more primal I might growl and get taken by animal control.”
“You don’t resemble a stray by any stretch of the imagination.”
“But I look like a tabby with grey streaks.”
“Those strands are the silver for our quarter of a century jubilee,” I say.
“Maybe you’ll splurge and get me real silver.”
“That’s what my piggy bank is for.”
“Those pennies add up.”
“One day I’ll get you a dozen silver dollars for your collection.”
“You give the numismatist in me the most delicious anticipation. Those coins will be the upside of growing old.”
“Honey, there is no downside to going grey with you.”
We arrive at our down and out apartment blues where I am filled with a hearty burgundy passion for her. Amber sits by her mirror as I comb her salt and cayenne powdered tresses. “Do you dig my old hippie hair?”
“You’re happy and free. I’m on cloud nine with you.” Her smile is elegant and puckish. I knead her shoulders with my hands. Her eyes close in reverie.
Amber leads me by the hand to sit on our bed. Her lover woman arms enfold me in a spiritualist embrace. She touches stars into my skin to nestle them deep in my aching need. My body sings to her
She peers into my eyes with dignity which says, “Hey don’t look away. I am your salvation. Seek none other than me.”
We misfit cats roam the wasteland in search of Buddha’s relics. But we find only a cheap apartment in Tremé where we make a mockery of Western civilization on a penniless night come alive in a rebirth jazz set.
She accents the mood with soft words. “Even New Orleans gals get moon-eyed on Saturday night. But if we cut a rug in this closet size apartment we might knock some furniture over.”
“Let’s read in bed together.”
“Why don’t you read to me a poem you wrote? That will assuage my romantic pangs.”
Poverty is our feast in a slum lord heaven. We lay together like Cupid and Psyche on a mattress fragrant with freesia oil from the purification ritual known as a bath designed to cleanse us of the dust of ages. But ambulance sirens howl in the wind while mercy is a police car headed into the night when sonnets are sung:
As surely as the seasons pass, summer into fall
The promise of dawn brings a new beginning
Surely as the morning birds call
Healing the sorrows of yesterday’s quarrel
Each new day brings the sweetest mending
As with gentle tenderness our lips converge
When to each other’s breast we bend
Our humming souls softly merge
Blessed by the Goddess our union is sealed
You are my muse, my springtime, my song
Beyond words is the longing for you I feel
Through divine love united, our spirits belong
Like two grapevines separate but entwined
Our love grows stronger as the years unwind
Amber says, “Kisses are our homemade beignets on this penniless night.”
“We may not have pennies because I cashed them in for something brighter.”
“Oh you sly devil, those look freshly minted with Sacagawea right there looking at me.”
“Your Irish eyes are smiling.”
“Let me look in the mirror. The only blues I see are my eyes.”