bus to Laramie?

I used to walk, to the mill
where I worked
six blocks up Kandleman
to sixth, past the Tremont Bar
where a hooker named Janie
would shout
from the bar stool nearest the door
on summer mornings
when the doors were open
and you’d smell disinfectant
from the night’s ‘mop-out’
mixed with the stench of old beer
and cigarette smoke
and charcoal
and she’d act as if she knew me so well:
“hey, Big Shot, come on back here,
play me some music on the juke
…and buy us round,”
but I’d laugh at her
and I’d laugh at the others who were there
for role call
at the seven AM opener
and I would rush past them
black lunch box in hand
up Charleston — uphill to the end
breathing hard…
to the Trailways station
where the grey behemoths slept
at idle…
…Salt Lake…
read the destination signs
and sometimes I would wave
to the people aboard,
and imagine them running
missing husbands
demeaning jobs
or their vanished lover…
…you know, the unvarnished one
who’d stayed long enough
to make a mess…
..like the one that she’d
married far too young
(six weeks shy of her nineteenth birthday)
to the old wino, who cared
too much for cards
and drink
smug introspection
cowardly destruction
and you think now
she is in Laramie
wondering what the hell
had taken her
so long
to leave.


why I don’t cruise

my friend Mimi says
she’s leaving town
and tells me that she’s going cruising
NOT in the Volvo
I say to her
not tonight – please
because it’s in no condition
to be on the street

and neither are you

dear Mimi
for that matter
but she laughs and
we order more wine
and she says she’s
cruising to
the Caribbean
to Nassau
and St. Kitts
and Barbuda
Barbuda?? What the hell??
Where the hell??
I tell her that you couldn’t get me
on a boat, for any price
I can’t swim
I have scanty identification
I am of uncertain national origin
I’ve been investigated
and I have:
pale complexion
unpaid parking tickets
in the city of Margate
a delicate constitution
and my night vision
is compromised
to say nothing of the fact
my second wife
depleted my savings
my MasterCard is rescinded
so therefore, I have no inclination
to gamble with
nor with
real estate agents from Paducah
or CPAs from White Plains
nor with
long winded Dallas day traders
who cruise
with their platinum haired
and I refuse to
listen to the confused ramblings
of a misplaced heiress
in the throes of delirium tremens
so I shall remain here –
until proverbial hell
freezes —
and again I say to Mimi
I’ll remain ashore
my feet in the sand
my dry elbows on
polished teak
right here
until the Bamboo Bar runs dry.


my last cigarette

last night I dreamed of you

wept for you, called out to you

but prayed fervently

that you would never


not you…

…you one hundred millimeter

mentholated bastard,

because I see you yet

in the last moments of


your heinous life, snuffed

and ending in a bitter blue haze

that steams forth, as you lie

crippled beyond repair

your slender body

crushed and fragmented

into a cluster of a half dozen

tiny glowing cinders,

embers that gleam

like demons’ eyes


and dying

as they devolve into ash

and join the others

in the black, hard-plastic ashtray

that sits beside a white, bone china mug…

“Patty’s Diner”

“Open all Nite”

“Since 1955”

it says on the mug

a mug that’s beside

(and slightly to the left of)

a plate of scrambled eggs

and overdone potatoes…

…the platter uneaten

as Charlie Pride sings

on the tablejuke

“Just Between You and Me”

and I declare that tonight

on April the eighteenth

nineteen hundred and eighty two

at ten thirty seven PM

we are officially over.

beach day

oh, you habitual absentee

you flagrant devotee to the sun

to the sand, to the salt air

you – the steadfast student of the

Royal Tern and the Western Sandpiper

who dares to lie about your

mid-day, mid-week

forbidden trysts

upon the sands of Pompano Beach

your face buried in the folds

of your Polar Fleece solar blanket

your golden hair scattered – unfettered

across your bronze, barren shoulders,

your lavender bikini askew and terribly

undone in a lone act of worship

to the Sun god

and you say to me that

the damned Bookshop deserves to be shuttered

because today…

…no one requires another second hand

romance novel by Nora Roberts, nor

Tom Clancy thriller,

nor used-boorish-business-book by

a self absorbed New York


nor a moldy volume of earthy poems

by some

sodden old New England poet

nor a slim volume of

waggish verse

penned by a decrepit old beatnik

nor a magazine with prattling

celebrity scuttlebutt –


as you tell me so often –

and quite gently

that our days are measured

often in inches

and not in yards.

the defiant

I watch them in the afternoon

when the days of spring

bend close to summer

and I see them, in banter

flocked together

at the Bamboo Bar

in scuffed sandals and

Bermuda shorts and

nondescript dark glasses

drinking rum punch from

pink plastic cups


unruffled and warming themselves

seeking relief from the worst sorts

of high end dislocation

and seeking solace in diluted drinks and

in the company

of those of a feather

they’re the last of the snowbirds

…the ones who hang on, far too long


for word from Grosse Pointe

from Upper Saddle River

from Cambridge

and the far shores

of the Delaware

to tell them that the final drabs of winter

have escaped

and cross-pollination is afoot

as the first daffodils of spring shoot

from the ground of

Chestnut Hill,

and Cherry Hill

and Beacon Hill.

and the pink dogwoods

are abloom in Brigantine,

and in Sea Gate, Brooklyn

And although the update is clear

it is unenforceable, and perchance

totally ignored

by these reluctant birds

the defiant and liberated.

midnight at the Edsall Road Denny’s


dressed in your corporate finery

your laptop computer buried beneath

your legs

your sixteen hours at Labor

just another day

and my disaster

at Manassas

hidden in the bowels

of a locked hard drive

in the password protected

fucked totally

world of the Governmental



together we push

our bodies toward each other

in the red faux leather booths

in the expression of final

Governmental Approval

all denied, then security

granted another day

amid the Beltway masses

half-assed coffee with creamers

pies with ice cream

scrambled eggs and


on the side

workers from the night shift

poking their heads

around the corner

wondering if there is hope

in this  land

and we tell them

there’s not.