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Unstuck in Time with Kurt Vonnegut, Vol

Knoxville Knonsequiturs

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Knoxvillian Thoughts

Laurel Avenue

  What Knoxville Means to Me
Laurel Avenue

by Jeff Callahan

Fall again, and the maples are flooded with sugar
and desiccation. The dogwoods spurt their bloody beads.

These days I seldom think of that distant autumn's party, how
I tried to fall asleep after too much wine and disappointment.

A girl I thought I loved had shown up with her ex-ex-boyfriend,
and I had sulked upstairs to flop on somebody's unmade bed

in that college student rack-rental I'd bet to this day hasn't
been painted. The room itself was rather Victorian in its bohemia:

the nightstand shawled in chintz, a beaded lampshade and
the stale reek of Shalimar. The one concession to the 1970s

was a full-length poster of Robert Plant, his face contorted
in bluesy transport, holding the mic near his prick

as if it too might up and shriek like a scorched albino.
On the deck a budding Dylan had his instrument out,

was attempting without success to get laid. He was yammering
about the desert and a horse with no name, which in

my state of self-pity and general intoxication, I heard as brain.
I don't know how long I'd lain there feigning sleep when

something startled me. A girl in white gauze—whose name,
even then, I couldn't recall—had an armload of clothes

she had taken from the closet. Her closet. She smiled—mostly,
I could see, from embarrassment. Asked if I was okay.

Then left, closing the door softly as if she had made a mistake.
As if grief had now somehow made it more my room than hers.