Burning Plastic Rose by Robert Morrison

This bar’s fluorescents burn, shimmering
like the remnants of an exploded star, my slight hair slick
like oil mixed with gravel. I follow flashing blouse buttons
attached to sun-darkened skin, faux gold-plated
circles, not fastened all the way up, the shirt seemingly transitory,
inviting my wandering eyes, stiff like the beads of an abacus.

I count out my chances on my fingers, crude abacuses,
as every other person disappears, shimmering
and whited-out like a mistake. I hail the bartender for transitory
courage, as the girl flashes ivory tower teeth, a slick
way to gather my attention. I sip alcohol, plated
by its hops and barley, still not knowing which buttons

to press for bravery. My mouth closed as if by a button,
this girl becomes a mental equation no abacus
could solve, her smooth skin appears plated
on her bones, as if the sun’s shimmering
took over her shell. Standing is a slick
choice, and I am forced up by transitory

fearlessness that will prove fleeting, transitory,
once my feet contact the floor. Still I button
up my courage and walk towards her, feeling slick,
as sure of myself as calculations on an abacus,
ready to tame this wildfire, this wildflower, shimmering
amongst the dandelions, her glow far less plain-plated.

Here’s a hoard of flowers, lying, plated
like a dinner with a jackrabbit, bouncing, quick and transitory.
In the pile sits a plastic rose that stands alone, shimmering
and terrifying like a tiger’s jaw, standing out like a button
amongst coins, like shunning a calculator to use an abacus.
Palming the plastic, its weight is uneven, its touch fake, and slick.

A scream emanates from my throat, rushing out like an oil slick,
I can’t hold on, the plastic begins to burn, fire-plated,
reeking of sulfur, but my mind remains divided, like math on an abacus
and the existence of that once vivid girl now a transitory
face with midnight hair and eyes like buttons,
as my own figure fades into a wild beam of unkempt light, shimmering.

My forehead slick with sweat, the fear transitory,
I allow my hands to be plated and sewn up with buttons
of my own flesh, a tiny abacus ticking loudly, its echo a silent shimmer.

About Robert Morrison