Old piper

I roughhoused with the mules as if
some treasurer’s life hung in the balance
and the large yellow leaves we’ve seen all summer
had no clear origin. If you crave a woman
somewhat more than she does you, why, never
be dumbfounded, old piper, when there’s no one
else out there riding the cabernet express, no one
else hitting the high and low notes you are,
and no accountant kicking around in storms
after decks of worn-out playing cards
gave up all their nines and tens.

I heard you unknowingly strayed into immobility,
I heard you let yourself get stuck singing on the side
of a mountain and wouldn’t permit Mary and me
to scale up with a cruet of olive oil
and a length of rope to pull you free.
I’d have zero trouble understanding that, old piper,
if I didn’t share your love for the smell of tires-
never-ridden in a windowless showroom,
those “best pillows in the whole wide world,”
and I was hoping you’d be guessing
that was why I wanted Mary along.

Being sure of something that didn’t happen
can be fairly tricky business, gray songster,
though had I been around at the time in question,
I imagine I would have warned you
not to go motoring with your stereotypical auditor—
just do not go driving with her—and while anyone
can guess you could have snapped your arm
just as easily singing ditties or playing solitaire
in the back seat, you were more than in her sights
riding shotgun up front. I mean, look: hot day,
no air conditioning, electric windows all down,
your arm resting nonchalantly across the top
of the door, and our auditor pedal-to-the-metal
zooming over some lesser highway
when she decides, completely spur-of-the-moment,
to hold a button down and your window comes
zipping up fast. Stifled-chuckles-kind-of-funny
what you can think of after-the-fact, old piper,
but I’m wondering (and, please, you can trust me):
did your voice let loose in honest pain,
did you go off-key in your wine-soaked warbling,
and did you ball the fist of your good arm in fury?

William C. Blome
04 26 16