Country Bill’s

Red plush leather with gold buttons,

An upholstery nightmare

Hidden in the dim lights of the lounge room

At Country Bill’s restaurant.

 

The air conditioning hums the same way

As the waitress clearing her throat.

In a few minutes lunch will stop being served.

 

The decor at Country Bill’s matches the

Dark beer they serve,

In the same glasses I have

In the cupboard above the sink

In my small apartment.

These glasses break easily.

 

I’m the only customer.

The waitresses are huddled around the end of the bar,

Reminiscing about last night.

Futility (1)

burning my favorite candle –

scintillating scent –

still smells like the supermarket next to the drunk tank,

half off combination locks

and other sophomoric gestures,

apologies, schemes,

vicious realizations in mind, mind

retaliating.

Understand: ultimately we wait on,

enamored with the taste of ourselves,

lost to visions of exposure.

Mapmakers disown their sons,

and leech our last faithful few,

who provide and deny the same thing.

Conformity

smoking cigarettes over breakfast in Hackensack,

we’re chastised by faded generations and decayed advice,

the ember flares of maturation.

a woman tells us we’re “conforming to non-conformity,”

and I wonder if that’s profound or shallow.

 

I’m too proud to prostitute but prepared to beg;

my memory still lurks on greasy wax paper in restaurants,

like a lion that’s lost his head.

 

***

 

no one to tell my good luck to,

so I snoop around the neighborhood (with extreme caution mind you)

in search of food and friendly waiters,

hoping to catch a glimpse of the ballgame score through bar windows on a high-def tv.

I talk about gas prices and the southern border

with the bartender, who fades out every few minutes to scratch away at a dirt stain on his apron. It’s been 20 minutes since the last drink order.

 

walking home I mutter to myself –

of meals and friends,

displaced remnants given birth by comparison –

on streets before the world my audience,

so that my words might not be extinguished

before meeting the lips of man.

 

It’s cold upstairs,

and I haven’t slept well in weeks.

Goose Bumps

Frantic voices in a neighbor’s back yard –

Young and laughing and loud, drawing breath into tender lungs,

Exhaled mist resounding celebration,

Some small victory, earned in observation.

Familiar the sound of the new season,

Another reminder of how we’re always coming back around

To where we started.

 

Under another salmon sky, Wednesday afternoon,

Smoke sits shoulder-height,

Introducing and concluding itself in a wash of artificial light,

Bullying and loud.

 

Tags on and all, and

Imbued with the scent of fresh figs, (reflective fabric clinging still),

The breeze sneaks in to play in the kitchen,

and now others smell the stove’s sizzling attire.

Working on Sunday

Working on Sunday

 

The night’s first drink, mixed with jackets and gloves unremoved,

sings with ice and glass in tonight’s most steady rhythm.

The empty house, with its tense occupation and ever-struggling furnace,

captures the traveller in its familiar atmosphere, like the protective figure of

a young man’s fantasy.

Two clicks and a light comes on.

Condensation-slick hands reach for the telephone, a reproduction of an old rotary in clunky red plastic.

Chilled water drops on the carpet.

 

The river, down the hill behind the steep backyard,

flows unnaturally, in different directions at different times of the year.

A pot of spring water boils on the electric stove, wetness on the pot’s bottom

sizzling against the worn black coils awakening.

The slowest of the four burners.

 

The radio.

Miller hits a three.

Sonny Clark spills his drink on the keys.

 

…boiling water begins to overflow.

A Sonnet…

a sonnet for two boys at a wedding in august

 

we dance within the stairwell at the church

our bodies lurching left and right slowly

to catch a glimpse of rhythm as smokers

begin to trickle in and out with rolls

 

of sweet bread on white cocktail napkins and

reviews of bartenders. He knew the groom,

I knew the bride like the beach knows its sand.

Ten years ago we shared a tiny room

 

without a working stove, which was ok

because our block had good Chinese. The rent

was low because we lived beyond Oak Street

which seems so far from here, this dimly lit

 

Cement-enclosed little piece of nowhere,

Swaying with you while others puff and stare.