the wrestling fans.

Africa Asia’s squished motel room
was next to The Beached Mermaid—
some dive, titty bar where
dope dealers loitered outside,
like abscess teeth.

When Africa entered our car,
he brought this wild super-ball
of excitement, this Tasmanian devil-
madness w/ him.

He talked rapidly & loudly—
like an old dragster, about to be
retired after this race, wanting, only,
to make one long, run-on sentence,
engine-revving-up point:
“So how y’all been? Mmmmmmm?
Same old same old, same old?

Our greetings would last 10 minutes
or so. Then we’d shop-talk
Classic wrestling, Southern wrestling—

“That shit’s real, man!
It is! When Magnum TA gets
that Belly-to-Belly on ya,
It’s done! That shit hurts!”

Magnum TA, that regular Joe from
the late 70s, early 80s wrestling world—
he may have been a rancher, a farm-hand,
a Texas Ranger, before putting
on the tights.
Magnum TA, w/ your uncle’s
light-brown, fireman mustache—
whose rail-roaded, razor-bladed forehead
dripped relatable masculinity, like
a leaky gutter, would say thanks
if you bought him a draft.

I think it was Magnum’s
everyday-ness that appealed
to me & Africa.

We’d talk wrestling for
the whole car-ride, until we
reached the karaoke bar.

Africa would normally sing
Blue Suede Shoes, after a
couple beers, & his version
was awful, almost incomprehensible—
like Ezra Pound’s poetry telegraphed
to the citizens of Atlantis.

But, he tried.
That’s what counts.

Part 2.

Finally, the rotten teeth dealers
outside The Mermaid
got to Africa.

He got a taste for Meth.

Our mutual friend, Tom, told
me Africa flipped-out while ringing
up people at Giant Eagle.

He started murmuring hallucinations
into the intercom—
like a delusional radio DJ.

They put him into rehab,
after that.

I don’t know if it’s worked.
We haven’t seen him.
He’s moved & quit his job.

So, say a prayer, if you would,
for this Magnum TA fan,
this Elvis séance interpreter,
this kind, feral man who may
have gone back to Atlantis.