The Box 69: GRAY

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Color: Gray
December 5, 1998
Song: "The Star Spangled Banner" Marvin Gaye

Alaskan Heat

Vinegar Hill is
Shades of gray.

And shades of gray.

And shades of gray.

The sky, the street, all the buildings:
And shadows of gray.

The snow on the grass.
The slush on the side of the street.
Mix in looking like Italian Ice gone wrong.
The man passing me with steps for a particular destination…
The stride of determination
The man who mistook integration
For desegregation
The poster child for assimilation
“Brother can you spare a dime?”
Spades of gray.

Vinegar Hill…
I love Vinegar Hill.
The sweetest place
With a sour taste…
But still the sweetest place on earth
And everybody knows it.
If you ain’t in church,
A barber shop,
A pool hall,
Movie house,
Local grocery,
The drug store,
Or just plain ole at home,
You ain’t nowhere
but here with me.

“Sister, can you spare a quarter?
Sister, you just got out of church,
Don’t let your conscience rot that quick .
That ain’t the Christian way.
You better go back in there
And find somebody…”

“oh thank you for the quarter sister…”
And shades of gray.

Stand at the end of the street
And look all the way down…
At the top of Vinegar Hill
And see
The black,
The white,
And the gray.
The gray is taking over…
Swallowing up the whole hill
Except me.
And mainly shades of gray
Except me
And my bottle of whiskey.
Soft and brown…
Brick red…
That’s the color I liked in the 64 box.
Waiting to put color back in me
And me back in color
So I can be seen again…
On Vinegar Hill.

Standing on top of Vinegar Hill
Is standing on top of world.
Crack open the bottle.
Up to my lips.
The cold in the wind
And the lick of my tongue
Has caused the chap of my lips
And its burning.
My gums burning.
My tongue on down my throat
On past and beyond.
I even felt my stuff tighten up
And a river of veins
Pop up on my forehead.
Damn that feels good.
The color is in me
And I feel it.
The steam of it is coming out of me
And rising off of me.
It feels good…
So damn good…
For now.

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