Lush Life

Gregory Luce

It has to be Johnny Hartman
with Trane framing that
voice that flows smooth
and rich like a river
of barrel proof bourbon
rippling with McCoy’s chords,
Jimmy and Elvin’s beats
popping like ice in a glass,
and the wheel of life starts
rolling you back through
the gay places, the low
dives, finally the side porch,
sitting alone late at night,
that pint bottle at your feet
almost exhaling whiskey breath,
you running your finger
around the rim of the glass,
tracing each bead of sweat
sliding down the sides,
pressing it to your forehead
to cool the sudden flush
that starts just at the hairline,
hands trembling a little now,
so another small splash into
the glass, slivers of ice tinkling
as your hand shakes,
the lush life in this small
circle of light.

Gregory Luce, author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line Press), has published widely in print and online. He is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He is retired from National Geographic, works as a volunteer writing tutor/mentor for 826DC, and lives in Arlington, VA.