confessions

of a

basement

alchemist

 

the rain is a drunk

player piano in a

detroit jazz bar at

midnight. my car

a sour fruit stand

on the side of the

road.

 

out the water

webbed glass of

my passenger

window, an

elementary

school.

 

i walk through a

downpour that

wouldn’t care if i

were running, to

the retirement

home to my left.

 

the nightshift

receptionist tells

me visiting hours

ended hours ago,

 

i tell her about my

car and ask to use

the phone.

 

she places it on

the counter from

her desk below

and turns it

toward me, tells

me to dial nine

first. i thank her

and do so,

arrange for a cab.

 

i ask for shelter

from the weather

while i wait for my

ride, she points

me to a rec room

with windows

facing the front

entrance of the

building down a

brief hallway,

also on my left.

 

a cornflower

cushion on a

worn wooden

armchair, a

voice from

an open door

at the end of

the hall. over

my shoulder,

i sit within

sightline of a

hospital bed

home to a

beckoning

skeleton

wrapped

thinly in

indigo skin.

 

bronze eyes

burn through

a vantablack

canvas and i

blink bedside

with a

bullwhip of

lightning and

an air raid

siren thunder.

 

he says,

“listen son,

for my time

here is at

a glorious

and

definitive

end. i

spent my

formative

years

aboard

further

and

the rest, a

basement

alchemist

responsible

for

supplying

our sweet

mother

america

with liquid

evolution in

biblical

proportions.

in my

nightstand

you will

find a small

leather-bound

notebook.

held within,

an encrypted

address to a

remote

location

home to my

life’s work.

you will then

find and be

tasked with

following a

specific set

of

instructions

that must be

obeyed to the

letter.”

 

an antique

italian

grandfather

wall clock’s

pendulum

stills

mid-swing.

 

a single tear

escapes the

corner of his

left eye as

he says to

the ceiling,

 

“ive waited

my whole

life for this…”