On Saturday night, Tulip called me from L.A. Some of you who have been reading EEOTPB since the beginning remember her. She is an old friend of mine who moved from Florida to California several years ago.
She asked if I could find a poem that I wrote ten or a dozen years ago. It was about a close friend of hers.
I found it.
…wondering…a salesman’s last night on earth…
…I’m wondering how it is tonight,
Out on Bass Lake, and out in Spirit Lake,
And in Grand Lake and on the Great Salt Lake,
Down in Lake Charles and out on Lake Shore Drive,
The tiny girl named Janie from the Woodsmen,
Is she making out tonight?
Did she save the napkin, or the night, or the dream,
Would we have made it without screaming, just us.
How about the others, like,
The young hooker with her scrubbed cheeks,
Loaded on George Dinkel and telling me once again,
That she had found her love and was returning,
To Pomona to attend Community College with,
Her friend from the dance company…
…nurse comes in to reload the morphine drip.
…was there a fight in Juarez, or was it the girl Cynthia,
I was waking up in the back seat of a cab – on,
The Stanton Street Bridge at dawn,
Wondering if that call had been from Harry,
Back at the Sioux Falls plant. Not caring then,
Not me because of the tremendous high.
If we sold another six hundred thousand,
Color television chassis south of the border,
I could not have cared less…or more.
I love the figures, but not the change,
Just the bottom line people back at the office,
They love when the numbers fly by quickly,
But not me…too much road time to care,
My concern is for the common people,
…they say I won’t last until dawn
…and I think of her, a young lady married to a man
Who couldn’t keep a job, and who drank each night,
Until he was oblivious to her and her cares,
Dawn. What a name for such a lady -such a timid name.
The last part of the night, the darkest part, will take him,
That’s what they say behind the curtain.
But I wait here, shackled like a tethered brood mare,
Chained to the misery of my last night on earth.
“Give ‘em Hell Harry,” I exclaim to no one in particular,
And I watch dawn break over Kansas City.