Two poems by William Taylor Jr.

Three Days Into the New Year

It’s January again with the Christmas trees
all stripped and abandoned in the gutters and on
the sidewalks and all of us mucking about
in the 21st century like we have the right
it’s the hour between dog and wolf
and I walk the neighborhood
like always still frightened
of the world and its everything
as the wretched men in power
go about their wretched business
and us regular folk we read the headlines
like dark prophecies
shrug and get back to our dying
and here in San Francisco
they’ve torn down every bar
that ever had a soul but I manage to find
a dark little place with Roy Orbison on the juke
and the only other man in here
is lonely and talks to the girl behind the bar
about the colors of the jerseys
of the basketball team on the television set
and there’s not much else to say
we’re three days into the new year
and there’s a momentary lull
in bombings, nightclub shootings
and celebrity deaths
and the guy across the street
standing in front of the Walgreens with a cardboard sign
he’s there every day just like the pigeons
and the old Asian women who pull cans
and bottles from the sidewalk garbage bins
he’s a lot like this poem the way he drifts about
with questionable purpose
forgetting exactly what it was
he was trying to say but if you don’t
keep walking he’s gonna
tell you anyway.

____________

Jonell’s

They were filming a movie or a tv show or something at Vesuvio
so they wouldn’t let us in
and the hipster art show ran out of wine
just as we arrived
so we ended up at Jonell’s in the Tenderloin
at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night
like something from a William Vollman novel.
My poet friend had just won $9,000 from a slot machine
in Mendocino. He was part of some kind of gang that worked the
Casino circuit. Whatever they did, I don’t think it was completely legal,
and I didn’t understand how it worked, but he sometimes made money at it
and then take a week or so to just fuck around
until the money was gone and he had to figure something
else to do. Bonnie the bartender put our drinks in front of us
and my poet friend said, Bonnie, me and Bill here are the two greatest
writers in the whole fucking city and nobody gives a shit! Bonnie just laughed
and told my poet friend he shouldn’t always drink so much and he said,
Bonnie, I started drinking at 3 o’clock today, and I’m feeling pretty vulnerable.
This would be the perfect opportunity for you to take advantage of me!
Bonnie laughed and changed the channel on the television.
And then my poet friend was cursing and looking at his phone, flipping it off
before returning it to his pocket.
My girlfriend, he said, we’re in an open relationship but she hasn’t
returned my messages in 3 days.
I left flowers on her fucking doorstep and everything.
Man, I need some Blow, Hey Bonnie who’s got some Blow?
Bonnie punched something into her phone
and two minutes later a large bald woman
with face tattoos was sitting on the other side of my poet friend.
They exchange some things and my poet friend tells me to watch
his beer as he disappears into the bathroom for a good
fifteen minutes and when he comes out he sits back
down and gulps the rest of his beer. He slams the glass on the bar and yells
“I’ll fuck anything that moves!” but nothing moves so he
orders a whiskey neat and another beer
and he turns to me and says, “listen, motherfucker, I know
you’re gonna make a poem outta this, so make sure you mention
the thing about my girlfriend, because that shit’s fucked.”

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