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Before her other foot is through, Melpomene feels the drip of cold rain running uncomfortably down her back. Her hair is plastered to her head. There's a wet sensation on her lashes-- she blinks-- runs a hasty hand across her face.

Outside, neon lights flicker, blurred to watercolor by the dirty rain-- small flyers and twigs fly against the window, battered by a belated gust of March. Taxis (actors trying to make it big on Broadway, they'll live fast and die unknown) greet her in a harsh, chaotic symphony.

Melpomene turns, and strolls to the bar, leaving splotchy mud-prints on the ground. "Tequila. Tall. On the rocks."

Suddenly, as if a great dam has been released, she can see them all-- the colorful thoughts streaming by as they pass, the rough edges of anger and the dark, dripping colors of depression. The bartender is worried that his wife is having an affair. She sees it behind her eyes, sees the sickly green panic rise--
and then it's gone again, tamped quietly down.

Melpomene turns her head, sharply, against the bright color that's been gone for so long. Takes the tequila, heading quietly to a table to dry. On the way, she leans over the shoulder of a young man garbed in faded black and sporting a lip ring. A glance at the page, and a whisper-- "Give up the bloody swan feathers, or it give up altogether."

Several minutes later, Gary's scribbled out every mention of swan feathers in his poem--the best part-- and he's damned if he knows why.

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November 2009

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