• The Box 69: GRAY

    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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