By Scott Laudati

Your Sunday Best

i can see girls at barstools
ready again to push their doubts
down past the breakers,
past spilled pints and men
that wouldn’t carry them on their backs
like their fathers.
there are cities and towns all over
america filled up with families
saying grace and eating dinner.
and no one knows
why we shake hands
and leave mass promising to be good
to each other.
you can trace the line up the tree
but the sidewalk splits once you walk through the door.
everyone surrenders
and the cars drive home.
a black flag flies where america once
there are killing fields in the backyards
full of fresh wounds and broken hearts
and around here
we all look the same

what’s enough?

it ends just like it begins,
with us not touching
not talking
not friends.
i would’ve stayed unhappy with you
for a lifetime
but how many futures
can be built on yesterday
and can we even fight this familiar hell
if it’s better than lonely?
you told me it can be like
all those mornings before this
but you forgot i wake up
earlier than you,
i can see that your heart
doesn’t beat for me
and if these brains and hearts
don’t ever align
maybe the point is
to destroy,
if love never means
the same thing to anyone
where did we think this would end?
all that truth and rose’
and promises we made,
the luck finally gives up
but the feelings never do.
lets go on one last date.
follow me past the boardwalk
to the rocky shore
and bring that typewriter
you bought at the brooklyn street fair.
we can put our hearts on paper
and stuff them in a bottle,
throw it at the seagulls
and watch it recede in the endless tide.
it’ll fade off like a memory
that started out so vivid
but years later the details
become impossible to define.
what else could it be?
i guess with all this emptiness there’s always
a little space left to fill up.
isn’t that good enough?

Buffalo Bones

an unsmoked cigarette
burns for thirteen minutes
without a drag,
and since you’re all grown up now
there must be a wedding day.
the town will throw you a parade,
rope off the streets where tanks
have rolled
and teenagers did the Hokey Pokey
after sunday mass.
they’ll re-introduce you to the
man who baptized you,
he says the “our father” often
but he doesn’t
look familiar

the blimp banner clocks the national debt
but nothing about all the i.o.u.’s
for last months rent,
or how fast cigarettes burn
as you sit around counting hours.
an arc of time is never real until
your lover pulls the joker,
you’re all in, full ante,
and one hand later
the game is over.
you knew it then.
they lied to you but that’s ok.
it just hurts real bad
when the rules change
and your professors
still want the homework.
maybe santa will pay the late fees
if you say grace every day of lent

pull out the old box of maps
from under your bed.
you get your revolver loaded and pick a direction,
a spot on the map you’ve never been before.
hitchhike to the Dakotas
where the weather’s colder.
where strangers with no faces
stand over your shoulders
counting pages in your notebook.
the wolves run free,
no swings in the park.
maybe the buffalo jumped the cliff for fun,
left their bleached white skulls in the pits
looking up. 
they’re hidden until the thaw.
that’s when you’ll find them grinning
with the spring bloom.
don’t worry,
eventually we all shiver in the sun

About the Author:

Scott Laudati

Scott Laudati lives in Harlem. He is the author of Play The Devil (novel) and Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair (poetry). He hopes to one day quit submitting and build a giant instagram legacy and maybe get regrammed by Khloe Kardashian! Visit him @scottlaudati