bus trip to Missoula

You thought
when you were young
that you would never
ride a bus
all the way to Missoula

to try to find

Kathy, that waitress
from the Fireside Tap
to see if she had finally
made up her mind

whether or not

to marry that
guy who said
she reminded him
of his mother

and to find out
if she’d ever

decided to
leave her job
and apply
for a new one
at the public library

and if she’d ever
decided to
pack all of her
shit into her
Ford Explorer
and change her
cell phone number
and if she had ever told
that lady at the rental office
that she needn’t bother
to change the locks
for non-payment…
because she’d soon be


…long gone

…that Kathy

…but you rode that bus
didn’t you
all the way from

Albert Lea, Minnesota
to Montana
and you sat beside that
bass player for
a band

the band who’d left him
…a couple of
weeks ago
after a gig
in the Twin Cities
and he snored
all the way across
North Dakota
and then he
elbowed you
in the ribs
a couple of times

when you didn’t want to

make small talk about
the state of the economy
and how the IMF
and the trilateral commission
and the Illuminati
and the Posse Comitatus

and the
state department
and the POTSUS

ALL of whom had
conspired to destroy
piece by piece

you rode that damned bus
didn’t you
and you didn’t look

you’re better off

sometimes when you don’t have
a job
to go to in the morning
you’re better off for it…

you say that to yourself

…as long as the 99 Subaru
kicks over and that
landlady from hell
doesn’t show up
in her paisley shorts
and lime green tube top
yelling at you over
the bougainvillea
saying she thinks
that she
saw you on the News
last night…
…she says you look like
that swindler from
Miami Gardens
who conned a
94 year old widow
out of fifty grand
last week.

Then she says

you are a
deadbeat because
you owe
six hundred twenty five
payable now…

…but you don’t think anything
of it because
you don’t have a job, and

… you’re better off for it
aren’t you?
as long as you can
make it
to that casino
… on the edge
of the Everglades
just…before dawn
…rolling up with
a 50 in-hand
ready to throw it down
in the high-limit room

two spins and you’re done
now head off
to the 2.99
breakfast buffet

…and you’re better off for it
…aren’t you?
just go home
and stuff your mail
into a neighbor’s box
and tell the guy next door
that you are moving to
Dallas in two weeks
to accept a position
in marketing for an


say to yourself

you are better off for
all of this.

a friend of mine is released from jail

they let a friend of mine
out of jail
3 days before Christmas
this year…
…he wasn’t a bad man,
he was a fine man
in some ways

he could
quote Shakespeare
like only
an educated
old drunk can
he could speak at length
about Gauguin
because he liked painting
and he enjoyed,
vodka interspersed with
the occasional glass of
old red wine

late at night

while Haydn played
on the stereo
He was…
an accomplished
Old Hippie
who had attended
and in his later years
he’d become
…a savvy investor
who’d lost a fortune
to Wall Street
and said he
didn’t miss any of it
not him
Citizen of the World
a guy who
dinner parties
spoke passionately
of the simple pleasures
of life in the country
a man who enjoyed
illegal cigars
and drank wine that
few could afford,

…but he did 15 months
in the can…

he didn’t kill anyone
…didn’t rob anyone
…didn’t swindle anyone
or profess to be
a Doctor of Dentistry
or engage in a false
medical practice in some
rented garage in

he didn’t say
that he could
cure ailments
or heal wounds
or lead you to Jesus
he didn’t sell
or guns
or religious paraphernalia
or hashish pipes
but he went to jail

damed old drunks
shouldn’t drive

leaving Orange County

I was flying over Orange County
one night last year, and
…I sat next to a guy
on the airplane
who said he was the
chief executive officer
of a corporation
(can’t recall which one)
and we drank
two double scotch
as we flew over
the Grand Canyon.
“There’s the Big Ditch,” he said,
draining his plastic cup
“none bigger,” I said back

he told me
a joke about
the President
of the United States
and then he told me
another joke
someone who
I didn’t know,
…a Hollywood actress
and I laughed
tho’ I didn’t know the woman
and then he told me
that his wife had
founded her own
Foundation in the name
of her father
a saintly old fool
who’d quite by accident
made more money than
God should allow
but who had died too young
and very conveniently
…and quietly
and with no remorse
or regrets

“God” I said…
“God is a good thing”
…and the CEO said God was
a fine and good thing too
…all of it

and we’d laughed
because we were
at 35000 feet,
…he in a fine suit
me with a half-written
valise of shit
in the overhead
…the two of us
were rushing
toward the same end
four and a half hours
out of Cincinnati