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Circa 1985

No onecould driftthrough Midtown Manhattan,Taxi Cab, 'partment stores, lunch at the zoo,No, no onecould driftthrough Midtown Manhattanno one could drift there like you.
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Utah Avenue, 1968

Fifty years ago I was a baby sitting in my mother's lap in south Louisville, Kentucky. Fifty years ago this day in her parents' kitchen on Utah Avenue, the apartment upstairs to the left. Half a mile from the distillery, half a mile from the L&N railroad, just a couple of blocks from Churchill Downs. Yellow and green parakeet named Peety chirping relentlessly in its cage at the kitchen window,
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True Tales of the Old West

"Remind me?""We were in the Plymouth your dad sold me the summer before.""The Plymouth?""The Plymouth Valiant, yeah. Mustard colored Plymouth Valiant. Your dad sold it to me for three hundred bucks.""I remember the car, all right.""Great car. Your dad had fitted it out with bird feathers for good measure. I still had to untangle the gears manually every once in a while.""You ended up with that car?""I
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Augie

Don't give me that look I know that look I'm not scared of that look anymore. The Pharisees handed it down to the Canaanites and the Canaanites handed it down to us. Your grandfather handed it down to your father on a cold Kentucky plain, stared across from the scarred maple countertop of the inherited flower shop, and he hit you smack in the middle of your frail scared young boy's chest with the butt
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Sooner State

When he got back from France he swore he'd never leave Oklahoma again. He built a fence around his house, built another fence around that one, and never talked about where he'd been and what he'd done. He grew thinner than he'd already been. Paler. He'd been considered something of a catch before he went off, handsome young man sitting on a spread of land like that, but those days were gone. People
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Ongoing Cavalcade

     I'm not asking for anything anymore, except to keep going. You can take it or leave it, makes no difference to me. I've seen people I started out with rise to unbelievable heights, at least by the modest standards we all started out with. I've come across their faces on magazine covers in foreign airports, watched them glide across movie screens, found their poetry in books picked
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Life So Long

I used to walk five miles just to stand outside your house, every night for a year. And you never knew. This was back when we were kids, you understand. It's not like I'm like that now, not like I'd do that now. Because I'm not, I wouldn't. Believe me, I've learned my lesson. That's all in the past. But back when we were kids I used to walk to your house after dinner, from my side of town to yours.
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Roadmaps

The uncle who married the Irish nurse in Boston. The uncle who drank himself to death after his own son died in a car. The uncle who died in the war. The uncle who took his father's job at the Feed Co-Op. The uncle who lived in Korea. The uncle the judge. The uncle the mechanic. The uncle the priest. The uncle the travel writer. The uncle the spy. The uncle who was rode out of Frankfort on a rail after
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Sparrow Thin

     When she died she died angry, to nobody's surprise, and when she left she left it with us. "Bad checks written that couldn't be cashed," as someone said somewhere about somebody else. I stayed up late reading her letters, listening to her messages, studying her photographs, and that anger continued to rise off of the page like a fire. Those were scores we couldn't even hope to settle,
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Gregory Corso

    Gregory Corso used to come into the liquor store where I worked as a kid, way over in the northwestern hinterlands of Greenwich Village (I still have dreams about the place now, that wherever I am now or whatever I'm doing I have to drop everything and go back to work there, the age I am now, the family I have now. It strikes me as unfair, but inevitably I head back without complaint).I
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Cold Clear Night

     He thought he could outrun it, and for a little while he could.     He thought he could outsmart it. Thought he could outdrink it. Thought he could outwork it. Outswim it. Outwalk it. Outeat it. Outsmoke it. Outfuck it. Outdrug it. Outshout it. Outspend it. Outpace it. Thought he could outdrive it. Thought he could outread it. Thought he could outwrite it. 
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South of Chattanooga

     Her uncle was a drunk, there's no nicer way to say it. Used to disappear all the time. Used to say he had to go "see a man" and disappear all the time. Wind up in some new ugly situation, jail or hospital sometimes, and her and her mother, your grandmother, his sister... they'd have to go get him. This was a regular thing whenever he was back in Louisville. She saw some interesting
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Vast Distances

Wake up. Make coffee. Stare out the window.Quarter to five. No need for the alarm. Wake up. Make Coffee. Stare out the widow. Again.Kids asleep. Wife's asleep.Radio on. Local news and weather from thousands of miles away. Farm reports. Livestock auctions. Radio used to sound like vast empty distances. Now it sounds like wires. Up close. Too up close. Radio off.Wake up. Make coffee. Stare out the window.
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Three Witches

The Three Witches, she used to call them. When they weren't much more than kids themselves. Girls. Photo taken early on an Easter Sunday Morning. Easter Bonnets and sun bright against their cheeks, the three of them sitting on the front porch steps of the house in Irvine. Husbands off to war.Before this one's husband died in Anzio. Before this one's marriage fell apart. Before this one started drinking
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Hospice (In Progress)

Green haired waitress with GRL POWR tattoo on her lower inside arm brings plates of eggs and grits and sausages and toast and biscuits and bacon and pancakes to the table across from me. Six or seven suntanned ropy Georgia farmers and their soft faced sons in baseball caps. Huge black women in hospital scrubs standing closer to the register waiting for their breakfasts to-go. Solitary soldier
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Spin out of Orbit

Something wasn't right. He knew that much. The old tricks weren't working and he hadn't even realized it until it was too late. He was abandoned, he had abandoned himself. He felt he was entirely to blame, if blame was the point, but he didn't think that it was anymore.This air. This November air.He brushed his teeth. He got dressed. He went to work. All outward signs of normalcy, of an ordinary day
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Fishamble Street

He walked. He walked for hours, the city wasn't big enough for the streets he needed to walk. He looked for faces, familiar faces, her face. Her face in a crowd of faces, but he never did find it, and not seeing it he walked until he found a face he did know. He walked until he couldn't recognize his own face anymore, staring back at him in the reflection of the plate-glass windows. Butcher shop, book
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You'll know...

How will you know?You'll know because you won't care anymore.How will you know?You'll know because all your food will taste the same.How will you know?You'll know from the looks they give you.How will you know?You'll know from the dreams that wake you up at 4:00.How will you know?You'll know because they'll let you know.How will you know?You'll know because of the smell.How will you know?You'll know
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Always in Love

He stared at her, not comprehending the enormity of what she had said. Still trying to figure out what just happened. She sat at an angle to him, smiling but a little wary, poised over her cinnamon bagel and strawberry jam. Black coffee and orange peel. Behind her rain against the window. The radio in French. He stared at her and suddenly he was gone. Just gone. Fallen back into a place he thought
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Whose Face?

He sits across from me, a real-life mid-life crisis sitting in the bar where I once sat and wrote a story about a mid-life crisis, strangely enough. Back before I knew the city well enough to be prescient. Back when I was too young to know what I was talking about. The fingernail-red walls haven't changed. The unforgiving afternoon sunlight reflecting off the shop windows across the street. He stares
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