Monday, November 10, 2014

The Day Before Veteran's Day, 2009

The Day Before Veteran’s Day, 2009

Lately, I’ve been feeling lonesome;
I don’t quite know why.
Maybe because it’s dark when I drive home from work,
and there’s usually no one to greet me
but one dog and two cats.

For most of my life I was all
the company I needed;
I coveted quiet.
I didn’t need a lover; I didn’t need a radio; no teevee.
I kept my own counsel, I had paper to write on,
and great books on all kinds of shelves,
but tonight it'd be nice to sit and chat with someone.

I drove downtown
to return some books to the library.
I checked out a book of Donald Hall’s poems.
Then I drove on up Main Street and saw lights on
in the town’s most run-down restaurant.

I guessed I was hungry. I pulled up out front.
They’ve made it more of a Sports Bar
since last I was here;
a large square of counter and stools are plonked down
smack dab in the middle of the dining room.
Four huge TVs are tuned to ESPN.
I order Alfredo pasta with chicken.

Some loud-mouthed guy on the far side of the bar
whines for twenty minutes about the Yankees.
Their payroll, he says, is a crying shame --
it’s that Steinbrenner who’s to blame.
On and on he whines. The World Series
ended over a week ago.
I wish he’d get over it!

I guess he’s one of those die-hard Red Sox fans
whose hearts have been broken again and again;
but I don’t want to hear about it.
I’m trying to read.

Fat chance they’ll change channels
for the likes of me. I'd rather watch the news.
I lowered the flag to half-staff this morning.
The President attended a memorial at Fort Hood today.
I was stationed there for four months in fifty-eight.
I saw Elvis the day after I got there;
he was coming out of the dental clinic
and, with a Colonel, got into a white Cadillac.
Next day he shipped out to Germany.
My buddies and I, bored in Fort Hood,
killed rattlesnakes for sport
on Sunday afternoons in the hot Texas sun.
Life was empty. I got out of there just in time.
Like Elvis, I shipped out to Germany.

I'm done with the pasta.  It was barely edible. A cup’s worth
of Alfredo sauce remains in the bowl, thin as milk.
I pay with my credit card. As I’m heading for the door
I hear that guy say, “A-Rod makes more in one year
than the whole Kansas City team makes.
Where’s the sport in that?”

I turn toward him; it’s my turn at last,
he’s been motor-mouthing too much
about last week's loss.
Why don’t you get a fuckin’ life ,” I yell,
and shut the fuck up?”
Well, not really. Only in my imagination.
No way do I have the guts to say any such thing.
I’m mild-mannered, I’m meek,
and at my age I’m comparatively weak.
I’d be filled with apprehension
that he might punch me
into the middle of next week.
I keep my mouth shut, I hurry on out.

Back on Route Six,
heading for the sticks of the sticks,
I turn onto a lonesome Gross Hill Road.
After a mile I pull into
the secluded Gull Haven Lane;
even Dylan’s Desolation Row,
where I could buy one of those
postcards of the hanging”
sounds like a great place to be.
There’s certainly
nothing for the lonely to buy
on Gull Haven Lane.

Jodie-Dog is thrilled to see me;
there’s some wiggles and there’s a prance.
I rub her haunches, I scratch her ears.
The cats glance my way and,
unimpressed, glance askance.
They have their airs.

I find my manuscript book,
the one that Donna gave me in Keene.
On its cover, in elaborate script, is stamped,
Discover answers with your pen and a little quiet.”
I’ve got the quiet down pat,
and I own a hundred pens.

I pull a chair up to the table and sit.
I try to come up with a question
to see if the book’s cover can answer it;
I’ve got one: How can anyone give a shit
about A-Rod and the Yankees
and a small round white ball?

My notebook,
like a poem that doesn’t quite work,
has nothing to say.
It's just another fuckin' piece
of another lousy day.

1 comment:

  1. great books on all kinds of shelves....and a hundred pens! My oh my...and to have the quiet down pat...:-)