I would like to say no words were harmed
in the making of the poem.
You see, I like words as much as some people
like puppies and small children.
As a grandfather,
and something of a pushover
I love babies, and puppies,
and old sad saggy red eyed dogs.
I also love sad saggy old words.
The ones that can barely move their rheumatoid consonants along.
Long time ago,
in a different universe,
I was a truck driver for Pepsi,
and in East Stuart, Florida,
there was a place called
Bessie and Ma’s.
I don’t really know what it was,
but it didn’t open until late,
like at dark.
By dark I had to be back in Rivera Beach,
so I would rattle
my long-straight-body-roll-up truck
alongside of the store,
bouncing over mud holes
and gravely bits of grass
and I would dodge the old hound.
He wouldn’t move.
There is a special sound a roll-up door makes,
you probably know it.
I hear it in my heart,
not my ears,
nor my mind, even.
I roll up the door in the slow late afternoon,
4 cases of non-returnable 10 ounce bottles.
Tossed on my shoulder.
Even though three was the limit.
Safety man says.
But It was a dollar’s worth of commission.
I wasn’t going to unhitch the dolly
for a quarter extra
and I had to take them all in.
Hell, I was young.
Thirty Years Ago.
The old storefront windows are filled with signs. You can’t see inside. I bang on the wood framed glass door. I wait. I bang, again. In a little while, a very old, very dark lady let me in. I shift the cases off my shoulder and onto the cooler box. I ask if she wants me to fill the box. No. she gives me the $36.00, I sign the yellow copy and give it to her. Thank you, she says. Thank you I say.
Out of the very dark place.
The hound is still laying on the edge of a mud hole.
Now he opens one red eye.
I don’t touch him,
but I lean down close and say,
“hey old guy, way to watch!”
then I rattle off to Palm Beach County.
No dog was harmed in this poem.
I am sure of that.
I read as much as I can that Al writes.
I have befriended,
or at least attached myself
like a groupie,
to some real LANGUAGE poets.
I try to protect the words.
I try to make sure my poem
knows it’s a poem
and that it writes about itself,
but maybe I am the dog in the mud hole,
just one red eye open.
I look in the mirror now.
“way to watch!”