My dead relatives have rolled out of their graves
this afternoon, to sit at Mabel Murphy’s bar in Scottsdale,
where I mix drinks wearing western pants, a purple shirt
with snaps down the front and a cheap cowboy hat.
Straight shots of Ancient Age for Ida and Buddy
Vodka Gimlets for Gail, rum and coke for Kay
Still a full blown hoodlum. Is that a switchblade on the bar?
This is not the right job for the granddaughter
of a 33rd degree Mason from Chicago, cremated
in a ceremonial apron, black tasseled red hat,
sickle and hammer ring. Where is Milton anyway?
Aunt Clara wears an early 20th century church hat
fastened to her head with bobby pins.
“I’ll have a Virgin Mary,” she says.
The tall ghosts of the Smith family are the most forgiving.
Aunt Marge, her husband Monk, Royal Sr. and Marie.
Christian Scientists all. My father Buddy is at the end of the bar,
slumped down humming post war love songs, hoping I don’t recognize him.
His legs dangle out onto the parquet dance floor, cigarette ashes
caught in the creases of his black pants.
“You should have been around,” I say. He writes on a napkin,
pushes it across the bar with his long bony fingers
“I made some bad choices.”
It’s seven o’clock. They’re getting noisy, telling tales,
arguing about the way it really was and who did what
to who. “Whom,” says Gail. “Another round,” says Ida
As a slivered moon rises over Camelback mountain.