N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 0 8
Huge left hand splayed across the keyboard,
sounding the same notes again & again
he was certain the pianist used
in "All the Things You Are"
but couldn't possibly have heard.
"What chord is this?" he asked.
I looked at the keys, pretended
it wasn't a cypher, & replied,
"Charlie, if you can play it,
you can call it anything you want."
Having slept past noon following
a sleepless night, I walked
over to Gina's house, fed
& entertained her cats;
watched the Halls of Montezuma,
a very good movie starring
Richard Widmark as a high school
chemistry teacher turned
United States Marine Lieutenant
fighting in the South Pacific,
a moral man with a conscience
being tragically tested
under horrific circumstances.
While his platoon died around him,
& he desperately sought information
from stubborn samurai prisoners
without resorting to torture,
a load of laundry tumbled in the dryer.
I wasn't going to make the train
that would take me the fireworks
by the river behind City Hall.
When the fireflies emerged
I rode my bicycle to the supermarket.
Picked up a few food items
& something to help me sleep,
waited in a slow checkout line
as the women ahead of me
signed checks for their purchases.
Outside, an indigo evening
rumbled with distant bombs,
rockets launched from backyards
exploded above shingled roofs,
automatic weapons fire erupted
on street corners, a large grenade
blew up between two houses.
But here my neighbors are grilling hot dogs
with mariachi music, their children
on the sidewalks waving sparklers.
I do not like being alone
on the 4th of July, & I am not
strolling through the patriotic crowd
in the parking lot by the river
behind City Hall, solitary,
with a bag of zeppoles, smiling
at the big battle in the sky.
More Bodhisattvas in a Dream
Buddy, you created this bar
& now we have to work in it
so you can hang out with us.
I served you an awful draft beer
in something like a hookah,
charged you seven bucks for it,
you drank it right down,
it was cold, humans get thirsty
even when you're asleep.
I told you I was going off-duty
& you should move to the tables
over by the bandstand, your friend
from the job you quit ten years ago
is playing, I know he sucks,
but the waitress is one of us.
Interestingly, you stayed in your seat,
eyed a woman walking unsteadily
from the ladies room, like
she was a drunken nympho,
& her condition made you handsome,
she's one of us, too. Believe me,
you're not getting laid with her.
Then you fumbled with your change,
dropped it on the floor,
stuffed it in your wallet -
you have pair of tens in there
if you can find someone else to serve you.
Or you might have enough for taxi fare
since you're wondering where you are
& how you're getting home.
Let me reassure you, this bar is
approximately where you think it is.
True, you're more comfortable
around us since your poet friend
advised you to be more sociable,
but you still don't have a clue.