Watcha reading? he asks.
I look down from my porch
to the sidewalk. It’s the old guy
who lives down the street.
He always wears a Tigers cap,
lives, I think, with his daughter
and her family down the street.
Oh, I say and hold up the book.
It’s a biography of an English writer
named Rupert Brooke. He cocked
his head, put his hands on his hips.
Yeah, he said slowly, grinning, nodding.
I heard of him. His granddaughter was a whore
in Papaeete. She had pictures of him
all over her room. Good looking guy.
I fucked her once. Everybody on ship said
it would be like poetry. I guess it was a joke.
I didn’t think she was that great.
He shook his head, put his hands
in his pockets. Take it easy, he said,
gotta get home for dinner, and walked away.
I think he started to whistle.
|"Hominy" photograph by David J. Thompson|
The Silence She Left Me
In the weeks before she moved out for good,
we were fighting about everything – bills,
housework, families- even Ike and Tina Turner.
I said that Ike was the real genius behind them,
she said that he was nothing without Tina’s talent.
And besides, she’d yell from another room,
Ike was a real dickhead. He used to beat Tina up.
I’d mute the ballgame I was watching and say
real loud, No wonder. Do you think Tina was easy
to live with all those years? That always shut her up.
She’d turn the vacuum or the dishwasher back on,
and I’d go back to watching football.
All I found was a short note saying she’d had enough
of my bullshit, not to try to call her anytime soon.
I loosened my tie, started wondering right out loud why
the hell that crazy bitch would ever leave me while
I took the last Pabst from the fridge. I sagged my way back
to the table, kept on asking the empty kitchen if I was
really some kind of abusive asshole like Ike Turner
until I realized all my beer was gone, and the silence
she left me was the answer I couldn’t stand to hear.
|"Bulldog" photograph by David J. Thompson|
The Top Of The Ride
I can’t believe how friggin’ early it gets dark now,
one of the guys said as they walked out of the plant
into the gray parking lot. Goddamn cold, too,
one of them added as they separated toward their cars.
Take it easy, man, they said, or More OT next week,
and waved stiff-armed good-byes, heads bent
against the wind. He got in his little Toyota truck,
started it up, and rubbed his gloves for a few seconds
in front of the steering wheel as if that would help.
He turned on a Springsteen tape, and told himself,
even if it was Friday night and he was tired as hell,
positively no beer till he got all the way home.
He bought a 6 pack of Miller Lite on sale and a bag
of Doritos at the gas station that overlooked the river.
He didn’t hesitate to pop one open before he was out
of the parking lot, took a long swallow, then another.
He finished it about halfway across the bridge, just
when the heat finally started to kick in. He started
to sing along with Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love,
wondered how far down below the Hudson was,
what it would be like in the truck - suspended, whirling -
before it crashed into the ice, and reached for another beer.
Stopped at the light across from the county fairgrounds,
he pulled another can from the ring. He looked out
into the darkness, fresh beer at his lips, thought about
riding the ferris wheel there with his high school girlfriend,
a month after they graduated - her hair, her smile, tanned legs –
and the taste of Juicy Fruit gum while kissing her at the top
of the ride while passengers were loaded until the car lurched
and started to descend. He put his forehead against the cool window,
closed his eyes, heard her laughter spinning in the summer night.
As he pulled away through the intersection, he remembered how
she stopped answering his phone calls in October when she went
away to college, and then he got the letter that said she needed
some space, hoped they would always be friends. He speeded up
when he hit the four-lane highway, wondered where she might be
these days. Last he heard she was divorced and living with a cop
and his kids down near Boca Raton. Nice fucking space, he said
to himself as he groped around on the passenger seat for the bag
of chips. God damnit. Where is it? he asked aloud, but it had fallen
to the floor, somewhere down there in the dark just out of his reach.
|"Read More" photograph by David J. Thompson|