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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Underground America

 

Dark wood paneling in Delaware and drywall in Idaho both

  suspend dartboards

surrounded by decades of pockmarks, architectural acne scars

  accumulated

through tipsy misses in mancaves, first the fathers’, then their

  teenaged sons’.

 

In the basement of an Elks lodge in New Hampshire, an AA

  meeting takes

place under watchful animal heads, beer caps of final libations

  on display,

while in the cellar of a Vermont tavern, microbrews are poured

  for unruly teens.

 

Except for the glug of the sump pump, nothing seeps into the

  subterranean

bliss of the Baltimore urologist’s love nest, a warm, moist shrine

  of soft leather

divans, new jack swing singles, and sweet cream puffs fresh from

  the minifridge.

 

The Princetonian Daily editor finds herself going too often to the

  Jersey shore,

hanging with homeboys in a canning room converted into a

  hydroponic deli,

sucking from a many-armed hookah, wondering whose hands

  are whose.

 

There’s a huge pit in Saipan, the site of the future foundation of

  the largest

mall east of Manila and west of Costa Mesa. They plan to call it

  the Trench.

For now, children chat in Chamorro and play in the pools at the

  bottom.

 

In a retrofitted septic tank, a Gulf War vet builds his Biloxi

  bunker for two,

willing to gamble that the blond bombshell he envisions will not

  blow up

during the long Nuclear Winter. He places Chardonnay on his

  Costco list.

 

A grandma with a master’s in economics from the University of

  West Virginia

cans furiously or lackadaisically, depending on prevailing winds

  from Wall Street.

Mining her cellar for jars of green beans and such has saved

  many in lean times.

 

A Mark Twain scholar in New Haven buries treasure maps in his

  backyard

that leads to his buried savings in gold and proof that this great

  man of letters

proved the existence of aliens in the same caves that swallowed

  Tom Sawyer.

 

Yankee Jenn calls Sumter “Scumter” for its lack of good pizza

  and the scarcity

of drummers who like manga music and Bowie and would

  follow her downstairs

for jam sessions and objective feedback on her mail-order

  specialty contact lenses.

 

The underground tunnels of America tentacle in bugged

  embassy wine cellars,

downed Japanese submarines in Guam trenches, lunar fontanels

  and deep

mistrust of benign heaps, invented tongues and ululations from

  our speakers.

 

Each hidden space serves as a synapse, a nerve pocket pulsing

  with private

memories beneath a collective dirtskin of baseball diamonds,

  picket fences,

and two-car garages: one level deeper, one beat closer to the

  human heart.

 

―John F. Buckley and Martin Ott