In a Year of Thinking Like Blue Oyster Cult

Photograph by Jose Padua
Looking for shirts at the Good Will store
I paused and examined a photograph
of Al Pacino from the movie Scarface
that was printed on an XXL tall sized tee shirt,
and just as I’m holding it in my hand
Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper”
comes over the store’s sound system
and for a moment I consider buying the shirt
even though it’s way too big for me
and though I soon come to my senses
about buying the shirt,
I remain standing there,
listening to Blue Oyster Cult,
remembering that it had been recently
that Allen Lanier,
one of the original members of the band,
died from having smoked too much
just as I used to smoke too much
until thirteen years ago when I quit;
and I focus on the gun Al Pacino
is holding in the photograph
then look at the caption next to it
which reads “Say Hello to My Lil’ Friend,”
which somehow moves me
to finally hang the Scarface shirt
back on the rack
and take the shirts I am going to buy
over to the cash register,
thinking “More cowbell”
and “I got a fever”
and I pull out my wallet,
hand over a twenty dollar bill
that will cover the four shirts
I picked at three dollars apiece,
plus what I found
when I first walked into the store
and headed straight to the shelf
of used books in the back—
a copy of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.
And when I leave the store
I realize that when I read the book
it will be far scarier
than the image of Al Pacino
playing Tony Montana in Scarface,
and make me fear the Reaper
even more than a Blue Oyster Cult song
that tells me not to,
because the words in a book
are the small, unpredictable friends
that sometimes turn against me,
threatening me with malevolent diction,
or else taking me places
I have no business being,
while the rest of the time
they stay on the shelf
or on the table
or wherever I lay them,
lining the pages of my books,
while carrying the information,
the story, the theory,
the reason and reminding me
that there are billions of far away
places in the universe,
none of which I can see,
none of which can ever be called home.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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