I meet him in the supermarket.
Janet, the cashier asks for my discount card.
Mike rants to her about Bob weighing himself
with two bags of groceries and I roll over laughing.
I check out and we get to yakking outside
Mike in yellow tee-shirt, short mustache, ball cap
and shorts talks about keeping the blood pressure down.
Mike runs his emphysema past me
his take on God, the revolution he expects
will take America, but it will start
over there, China maybe, the East.
How the doctor told him he had two years to live.
How he went home and threw out two cigarette cartons
and two quarts of tequila, just like that.
How he walks ten miles a day.
I tell him about the dog for sale
The joke about the guru who thought life was a banana
and Mike, a bricklayer in retirement
tells me his roommate can’t stop smoking
how he drinks; his veins just bulge with rage.`
How the Jewish neighbor told him to throw
out the free range chicken broth, whatever that is
and only use sea salt for the boiled chicken.
How swimming in that ocean after work
cleans the chalky residue from the bricks.
off his arms, his skin.
We shake hands and I tell him I have ice
cream in the shopping bag and milk.
Mike says the supermarket folks keep him going.
He tells me he listed the five women who work
the supermarket as the most beautiful women in the world.
He puts his hands on his hips, sticks out his chest
and says several other women show their indignation.
They want to know why they aren’t on the list.
He gets a kick out of that.
I am about to tell him the joke about
infrequently as one word or two
but I forget the lines.
Mike and me stop talking for a minute or so
and gaze through an early morning rain
to the wide street beyond the parking lot.
Two men in the game running off a little hope
a kick, a laugh or two watching the day scoot on.