FROM A GAS STATION OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE

This kiss, unfinished, lips to receiver in the parking lot,
a pucker shot through a fiber optic wire
to an answering machine
toward switchboards and stations transmitting
in blips to satellites, this kiss
thrown earthward and shooting down
coils, around pipeline and electric power
lumbering underground,
up threads and transistors
and transference points.
This kiss is zeroes and ones jumbled
and tossed into a pneumatic system,
unscrambled at the end and scrawled
onto a tape recorder slowly rolling
at the side of your bed,
then slapping back, reverbed
off the ringer, a tinny phantom
of the smooch like a smack on
an aluminum can, up the same
veins through the belly of the same satellite
and softly to the side of my head;
this kiss is home before the next exhalation leaves.
I’m stooped in the booth,
pounding quarters into the slot;
yellow light droops over the asphalt,
and your ghost, too cool
and elusive with those hands and mouth
sings around me in the smell of gasoline;
whose mouth is this, scratched in static,
some droplet of a sigh, atomized,
and sputtering digitized into my room?

-By Mike Doughty

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