03 Mar




He stumbled to the bathroom

to fetch his gun

Walking out, sputtering like a jangling plate,

his robe flung open to reveal his impotent politeness    

and with a voice like a trophy broken against a bit of bone

he informed me that he has misplaced his leather gloves

“I don’t want any mess on my hands

“they are quite delicate”

I poured him a drink and sat back in my designated chair

uncluttered by the New York Times editions from the early 80’s

So, this is what the great dramatist has come to

another recipient of the Tennessee Williams stability award

who just to be an asshole asks me to recite some Esenin

knowing full well that I haven’t picked up a book in weeks

and haven’t remembered a stanza in all the years since they used to preach

something I naively thought was sacrosanct

all mouths agape waiting for a soul to scrub

since I’ve last stopped watching slovenly blood clog the chamber.

He put the revolver on the table next to him

it was silver and lighter than I expected

Now wanting to begin a new subject, I ask

“Have you written anything lately?”

“No, kid

“I’m just revising the same apology over and over

“But I know that you know what that’s like.”

I did and I agreed.

You should always agree with a man of no violence

sitting next to a revolver

and watch for an unpleasant smile

a loneliness newly treated as force majeure

unflushed toilets and shaving tools browning by the sink




arrhythmia and dizzy spells




the skin that no longer seems to fit.

He interrupts my thoughts again

“I feel bad for ‘ya, kid – you haven’t even gotten here yet and you’re cracking up…

“Writing poetry so sad and simple

“about a dish that used you up in the Bill Withers sense.

“I’ve had so many of those. Documented. But as you see, you’re the only one left to grant me conversation. They never last. But they are always wonderful. Treat them as such. Figure them out sooner. Use them for the writing, not for salvation – they have their own ways to pay for theatre tickets, so don’t offer to write them a new role.”

He lights a cigarette and pretends to inhale

then hands it off to me as though offended by its taste.


I have to insist that I won’t end up like Cassidy

and he tells me that Kerouac wasn’t much of a writer, anyway

more of a sycophantic student eager to emulate.

I liked parts of The Dharma Bums so I remain of no retort.

He tells me to aspire for higher.

But what future does he have me look to, as a harbinger of shit and dull.  

We decide to watch a few films with Veronica Lake

that I brought over from the one library I’m allowed in;

he liked her face

and I liked him referring to her as “miss Peek-a-boo” with dwindling aplomb.

While we watch he falls in and out of sleep

and I think to take the gun

think whether to put it back into the toilet tank

next to the wall that smelled slightly like gangrene

or just excuse myself and leave him here again

with his endless penitence and mounting regrets.

It never seems like time to jest a joke,

never the time to take a stroll through the park wrapped in warm nostalgia  

and remind him about the stories he had written

the people he decided had a right to live

the people that turned out to be him getting ready for the parody

a party he had already scripted that he didn’t want an invite to.

I walk over and touch his cheek

remind him of my envy

and wish him a new day

wiping his ass with the New Yorker with a chuckle.

His frail hand drapes my arm

and I see undeserved gratitude,

but yet

I’m the one to thank him

and disappear.


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