TWO BY JIM DAVIS
As if anything were better than the Bloody Mary
at Harmony Grill, the pepperjack, the pepper sausage
and olive, speared and teetering on the rim,
a small bead of worcestershire dripping.
As if there was anything more romantic
than a red cup spinning in the wind,
or an embrace cut by the smell of sleep.
I pull a wrinkled bar tab from my pocket.
Dishes clatter and the sweet smoke
of the kitchen stains our clothes. And here’s you:
eschewing your plate from my reach, a flake of meat
hovering above your pink tongue, a capsule pinched
between finger and thumb, containing light
and all that precious heat.
Here’s honesty: it wasn’t enough, not even
the good sad, the painful desire, the warm blue light.
I mean, it was too much and you were everything.
You turn your back on the gut-shot, since and before.
Here in the gutter, in the wind of the revolving door,
I lay drained. Stuck with the bill and a handful of coins.
On my birthday, of all days, without so much as a call.
So thanks for nothing, Monterrey, and everything
you left behind. Traces of purity and desire
wiped away like rain from the windshield,
scraped like food scraps from the flatiron. Forgetting
what was, what could have been, what never will be.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Report on a Ham Sandwich
He knew he had left the lights on,
but turned over and tried to sleep.
Earlier that day, on his meager lunch break,
he spun the radio dial and found the crooning
of Freda Payne and her band of gold.
Since you been gone, all that’s left…
He shut it off. Those lyrics, he thought, are only
viable in their presentation. That’s the difference
between a poet and a performer. He walked into the grocer
and tipped his cap. And waved. Tipped his cap again.
Everyone knew him, which was sad.
He had stayed too long in this white collar town. Get out
of my way, and old lady crackled from behind the wheel
of a cart packed with tomatoes and brains of cabbage,
her cane hanging from the bin. Oh my, she said,
I’m so sorry m’boy. Carry on.
The man behind the deli counter knew him by name.
He ordered a boiled ham sandwich on wheat bread.
He ordered lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese and mustard.
The sandwich was cut in half and wrapped
and passed over the glass case. Outside, Terry scraped
ice from the windshield. Brian salted the walk.
Terrance traced a trumpet in the snow on the window,
humming a soundtrack of the day. He thought
about running the light, he was going nowhere
in a hurry, just wanted to try it. Again, the radio.
It was RB Greaves this time, who said, Take a letter, Maria. And then something about starting a new life.
The corner of the banner is falling, Suzan Mendoza
for City Clerk. Stone for Alderman posted in the lawn.
He tapped his horn twice, the polite way,
and signaled to the car beside. Barry had left
a mug of coffee on the roof, still steaming.
He wondered how it would taste when he retrieved it,
or if it would smash on the road. He wondered
how anything familiar could be so empty
as the naked pads of his feet
tiptoed down the steps,
and into the living room
to shut off the light.