Relative to Guns 'N' Roses
In a box in the basement, strewn with cobwebs,
I find a photo album and the ratty blond wig
I wore one Halloween in college when I dressed
as my alter ego, the front man of a lipstick band
named Chix that I quit the band in a hissy fit
when my drummer’s heroin habit left him
unable to keep time, nodding at live shows
and absent when it came to the studio tracks.
So my alter ego pursued a solo project, aborted
when I collapsed on stage then went to rehab
and came out a Scientologist, paying big bucks
to have the thetans expelled from my body.
Or that was the narrative I told the pretty girl
who did my make-up that night as I snorted
an eight-ball of cocaine and tried to pretend
that I was interesting and unpredictable, claiming
I had a high school friend who was a roadie
for Guns N’ Roses who said that Axl Rose
sucker-punched him backstage during a blackout.
And as she applied a thick stripe of blue
blusher, tracing each cheekbone, I told her
that relative to Axl Rose, my own drug use
was strictly recreational. And now, as I stare
at this picture of me at twenty-two, wearing
a skintight pair of thrift-store leather pants,
I can hear her tell me, “You’re trying too hard.”
Roger, a friend from the bar,
can’t stand Bart, a guy in his 50s
who wears farmer’s overalls,
drives a red antique roadster
and parrots the propaganda
he picks up from Fox News.
One night, soused, Roger
explained to me that salt
will dissipate the head on a beer
as Bart strolled into the bar
with chicken chunks in his beard.
“I don’t understand why
the homos think they can
marry like regular people,”
Bart said then sucked back
a bump of house bourbon.
“Bart the Fart,” Roger barked,
licking his top lip and grinning.
Bart didn’t hear him but I laughed.
With salt, what else needs to be said?