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Forrest & Doyle-Gillespie – August 2016

Edward Doyle-Gillespie and Allen Forrest traded art and words. Allen shared this image, entitled “Blues Boogie,” with Edward:

In response, Edward wrote this poem:

Between Sets at The Top of the World Café

And that was where
she stopped her story.
He was dying.
It had finally reached his lungs,
and he was dying.
He still played at
The Top of the World Cafe.
He still wore the string tie and the suit
that should have been about thread-bare by then.
The guitar was still less than he deserved-
the frets surrendering to time,
finger-worn grooves like rows of tobacco
in its wood,
but it still played Mannish Boy
when he asked it sweetly
as you do in a long, long relationship.
He would cough into
a cotton handkerchief
that he kept in his breast pocket,
she said,
but he still flirted with the prettiest girl
in the front row,
saying he would steal her away
that very night.
Somewhere in her story,
she mentioned how the streets
and the alleys
that still wove a knot around
The Top of the World had changed –
how the throw-away ragbag people,
the wandering child tribe,
the anonymous queer shadows
had all been purged,
and how the people that came to
the place loved him so
because his skin was like vanished wood,
because he rocked himself like a man awaiting The Rapture,
and because the bare-bones rasp of his voice,
they said, sounded “so real.”

* * * * *

Edward shared this poem with Allen:

Through Elephant Grass

This is a story about the same man
and the same town, only both
grown older.
The main street has sprouted
like a forgotten potato, reaching out
with eyes and fingers where there used to be
empty fields.
And the man in the diner
now talks the way old men do –
with broad shapeless hands
that knead thin air as though
he were conjuring a djin.
He is still in love with the
waitress who has blonde hair
and skin like raw honey.
And one night, when his third
cup of coffee has come for free,
he begins to talk about
about how he stumbled in the
elephant grass at a bend in the road
near Pleiku.
When he stood up again, under a
full moon, that night, he saw
that another man had joined him
“I still think he had those black pajamas
they told us about,”
he tells her.
And he conjures that empty space again
as he says how both of them
stared for a moment,
then walked away
that night, maybe deciding
that the other was a ghost,
and that place in the road
should be left to carry on
for itself.

In response, Allen made this drawing, also titled “Through Elephant Grass”: