Saturday, April 09, 2005

H with a leather coat over his arm

Oh I didnt know you knew poets.
I know Kevin.
So you read poetry.
I dont read poetry I know Kevin.
There is a light in the window
of Supermarket and I keep mistaking
it for a camera from the book
channel. I'm on Augusta, having
hunkered through the
barren western town of Kensington
Market. Someone has bought me a
drink. I see it there hanging off
the end of my hand. Theyre
using blue ticket stubs for drinks,
so tip well.
I was reading an anthology of poetry.
Oh yeah.
It's the one with, it has a red cover.
There's a yellow square on the cover. I
think it's called Poems for Strange Times.
I dont know it.
A poet comes over, and I describe the
cover of the book.
The one with a drawing by Kafka, he says.
That's the one.
Emergency Kit, he says.
Do you like it.
It's a good book.
You dont like it.
I said it's good.
But it's not wonderful. You wouldnt
kill for it.
He guzzles his beer. He has been
drinking for three days now.
I taste someone's green beans. Spicy
and firm. I'm using green chopsticks.
I have permission.
Where were you.
You mean, I'm late.
I'm being very polite.
I was watching a man use a ukulele,
I say.
There is much talk, too much talk,
about revisions.
And then what.
Then I walked through Kensington
market and it looked like Dodge City.
Deep down the throat of the bar
is a blind man from Uganda playing the
thumb piano. I remember him from
a red barn months ago. I wonder if
there is a society for thumb piano
that rejects amplification.
I see H and he is carrying a leather
coat over his arm. He is like a butler.
I decide to lace into him, to get
that coat off his arm. It takes me
nine minutes of lacing, but he puts it down.
These are the small victories, friends.
Do you think tonight is going to be a long
Oh yeah, the poet says. The one who knew
it was Kafka. He says it with some
resignation, as if the fact of hauling
oneself home in the dawn is beyong free
choice. And perhaps it is, when youre
visiting. Someone tells me Australia
will require a minimum of six pints a
night from me. I am going to Australia.
That thought takes me out of the bar
without saying goodbye, which is the
height of cowardice. Sometimes when
youre older youre allowed a measure
of cowardice.


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