If life were a short story in search of
an author, he’d be looking for Ray Carver
or one of his many disciples near the bus
stop, pushing aside overgrown weeds,
grass, searching for expired day passes,
ten trip tickets to sell to the gullible
or the easily intimidated, waiting at Division
Street shelter. His half-hearted sales
pitch fails to persuade, asks instead,
“Do you know where there’s a pawn shop
nearby? I know there’s one on this street.”
He might have added, “somewhere”,
on this main thoroughfare that extends
from Albany to Syracuse and points West.
Finally settles on, “You have a buck you can spare?
Loose change?” Rebuffed, he seems more
discouraged than upset, this neat, middle aged,
overweight black man wearing new sneakers,
fresh clothes, and badly in need of a drink.
“You see I really need a drink.”He says,
almost casually, matter of fact, “If I don’t
have one I get sick. My hands shake,
I throw up, sometimes I even convulse.
Doesn’t matter what it is either: flat beer,
bad wine, anything, man. Got to have it.
First thing every morning, every day, all day.
It’s awful. I done the rehabs. All of them.
None of them took. My daddy was an alcoholic.
Died young. Wasn’t but 45. I’m 50 now.
Counting my days. You could say I was home
schooled. My mom left and my daddy didn’t
care about nothing but the booze so that’s what
I learned and I learned it good.”
Who knew if his story was true. He didn’t smell,
look or act drunk. “You can’t know what it’s
like to need something that bad.”
Actually I could.
I gave him a buck.
Archive for July, 2013
If life were a short story in search of
The Angus steak burger would taste better
without the chipotle sauce, but this train
runs to Mexico so I’ll take it like a man.
I’d prefer the taste of guacamole spread,
the cool slick kind Bianca whips up.
To be more specific, a batch like she made
for my fortieth birthday and smeared
all over my chest. Well, you can guess
what happened next, and I think about it
as I stare out the dining car window.
I see buzzards perched on saguaros
which reminds me of old Road Runner
cartoons, the way the vultures sit
with shoulders hunched when Wile E
Coyote blasts by on his way to get hit
by a train crossing the desert. This has
nothing to do with guacamole or chipotle
sauce, it’s just the waitress serving lunch
reminds me of a skinny road runner with
her blue-grey pants and orange knee-high
socks and the way she struts like nothing
can ever touch her. And nothing can.
After all, I’m no threat, and Poncho Villa
was killed a hundred years ago begging
his men to make up something to tell
people he said when he died,
something that sounds cooler than
Vámanos! Let’s run that stop sign.
The old man
approached the bookstore
He smelled of piss and cheap beer
and no one could help him
and the old man
the maze of books
hopeful and hopeless
some with fragile soul
some with e
but he couldn’t find
and he wandered
back to the
and still he smelled like
no one helped him
until he shuffled out
with no new books
used or otherwise.
Officer Burks brings Max
into the alley
and Max immediately
strains at his leash.
He’s onto the scent
of a killer.
Nose to the gravel,
Max sniffs back and forth,
from his hammock lips,
his head never rising.
Burks knows Max
will corner the killer,
but not so fast.
He almost trips when
Max breaks his leash
and charges forward,
till a shot is heard
and Max drops,
a bullet in his head,
in little lakes
It is ever so:
Max was slain
by the same killer
wanted by everyone
since the beginning
of time, the killer
in alleys and caves
and other dark places
primed to harvest,
one by one,
all of us
if our time comes.
Hardboiling in Harlem:
Coffin Ed Johnson & Gravedigger Jones
pissed off with all the red tape & ass kicking
take Breakfast at Tiffany’s uptown.
Upper East Side.
3-Way with Holly Golightly.
Cigarette holder & all the accoutrements.
You can leave your hat on.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
You can’t give your heart to a wild thing.
is already old news
before it even hits
the fresh black print
of our driveway;
comes in handy
to swat the puppy
whenever he pees
on the new carpet.
Hi she said don’t
I get a kiss, oh sure I pecked
Peck alcoholic I said,
The flower pots got knocked over by
The rain she said
Was it the wind or
The rain I said
The rain came down
In sheets didn’t you see the
Rain knocked over everything
She said, I was 50
Miles away in the city
I don’t know I said,
And don’t put your
Umbrella on the silk carpet
She said, it is only
Damp at the top
I said, then I said
It was good enough for
Your dog to take a
Shit on that you told me
To clean up,
I cleaned it as I
Heard a giggling girl in my
Son’s room that he met
At the restaurant
Where he washes dishes
His first job
The thunder and lightning
Starts again the dog shit comment
Made the rain
Heavily drooping all her flowers
The gutters are overflowing
She said, I saw a stick up there
You never do anything did you
Clean them out she said
I cleaned them I said
Hearing the young girl in my son’s
Room above squealing with an orgasm