BJ Ward: ROY ORBISON’S LAST THREE NOTES

12 mph over the speed limit on Route 80, I realize
the way I know the exact size of my bones
is the way I know I am the only one in America
listening to Roy Orbison singing “Blue Bayou”
at this precise moment right now,
and I feel sorry for everyone else.
Do they realize they are missing
his third from last note?-Bluuuueee-
and how it becomes a giant mouth I’m driving into-
“Bay”-pronounced bi-becomes the finger
pointing back-biiiiiiii-and all the sealed up cars
greasing along this dirty, pot-holed clavicle of New Jersey
don’t know this “you”-constant as my exhaust smoke-
yooooouuuu- and the beats underneath, more insistent
than the landlord knocking on the door-horns, drums, guitar, bass-
my Toyota Corolla is now one serious vehicle,
and the band and I are all alone, filling it up-
Roy and me in our cool sunglasses up front
and his musicians barely fitting their instruments in the back,
driving into the blue-bom bom bom-pulling ahead
of the pollution faster than New Jersey can spit it out-
Bye-boom bom-his leggy background singers must be jammed
in the trunk because suddenly I hear them and suddenly
we are Odysseus and his boys bringing the Sirens with us,
and the cassette player is our black box
containing all essential details in case we don’t make it,
but I know we’re going to make it because
Roy, my cool copilot, turns to me and says,
like the President says to his top general
after a war has been won, or like Morgan Earp
on his deathbed said to Wyatt when vengence
was up to him, or like Gretchen Honecker
said when I knew I was about to get my first kiss,
Roy turns to me and says, “You-”



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