I walked into the brewery and ordered up a beer
Sat down at the bar, said I was waiting for you here
When I finished drinking I walked across the floor
I saw a couple of old buddies from back before the war
I called over the waitress and bought them another round
They patted me on the shoulder, been a while since I hit town
It’s sure a lot of fun, I’m glad that I’d stopped in
But I’m looking across the room wondering if you’d come again
I settled with the waitress with her hand set on her hip
I reached deep into my pockets and found her a little tip
Then I walked out the door pulled my collar against then chill
Saw a couple street musicians playing in front of Macey’s grill
I handed them some money and they played a cheerful tune
I hung out on the street hoping that you’d show up soon
I listened to the trumpet and I moved with the beat
I watched the drummer keeping time tapping with his feet
The November air had started to get a little cool
So I walked down the street thought I’d shoot a little pool
I walked into the pool hall everybody started to cheer
They slapped me on the back and they bought me a little beer
I saw an old girlfriend from way back in the day
She put her arm around me and I knew I couldn’t stay
So I walked up Second Avenue and found a used bookstore
I stared into the window and thought I saw you sitting on the floor
I opened up the door and heard the bell ring
I got a cup of coffee and listened to Sinatra sing
I read a little Kipling and some Pablo Neruda too
I walked across the room and sat down next to you
I reached over and gently brushed my hand against your hand
You didn’t pull away even though you knew you can
I read to you from Byron and paused for a little while
You looked into my eyes and then I saw you smile.
"Ain't seen Jimmy in a while."
"Jimmy? That dude? He doesn't come around much anymore. --
Not since he got married." The guy talking was Bill, chuckling as he chalked his cue.
The rest of the room chuckled a little bit too.
"Yea, we told him not to do it."
"Shoot, look what it did to me?"
"Yea, me too, glad I learned the first time around. Won't be making that mistake again."
“First time! Damn, Pete, you didn’t learn the first three times -- Hey Bill, it doesn't matter how much you chalk that thing it ain't going to help." Joe was the jokester in the bunch.
"Up yours, Joe," Bill replied, leaning over to take his shot
"Remember you got stripes." Bill was notorious for hitting someone else’s balls.
"Screw you," he said and missed his shot. Everyone laughed.
"I need another drink. Shooting pool with you guys is going to turn me into an alcoholic,"
"Hey, get me one too."
"Yea, me too, Jack and Coke."
"Beer for us. You're a good dude, Bill."
"Yea, I don't care what Jake said about you, you're a good dude."
"Every one of you can kiss my ..." his voice trailing off as he walked up to the bar.
"Not your night, huh, Bill?' Grace, the bartender had been working here longer than any of the guys in the room had been coming.
"It's all in good fun."
"Sure it is." She said. "Here's your drinks."
"Thanks, put it on my tab, Pete got the last one."
"Already did, Sweetie," Grace called everyone sweetie, except Jim, there was some history there, but no one cared too much.
As far as bartenders go, she wasn't bad; wasn't bad to look at either; that's all these guys cared about. She was quick witted and could take a joke too, a necessity if you wanted to make a living serving drinks in a private club like this.
Bill took the drinks to the guy's and Grace leaned over the counter, watching the game, making sure her breasts were pushed up just enough. -- She needed the extra tip money.
The guys shot pool and joked with each other, calling names and telling crude stories. Grace laughed a little and flashed a little skin every now-and-then to keep their attention. It was slow for a Thursday.
"Hey, Jimmy we were just talking about you."
"Really?" Jimmy smiled, still standing in the door. He was really a likable guy, but he didn't fit in with these guys. He liked them alright and they liked him, but only in small doses.
"Hey, Jimmy, you in, I need a partner, twenty bucks a game."
"Yea, come on, they don't call you 'Big Money Jim' for nothing.
"Big Money Jim? More like 'Small Change James'," Grace said, just loud enough for Jim to hear.
I'm on the edge of running away
I don't know what stops me
other than my feet refuse to move
My mind says Go, you don't need this
but every time I think I'm ready
I know I'm not
Whatever is broken inside of me,
is shattered for good.
So, I guess I will stay a little longer.
When I first saw him
Standing on a street corner
He was wearing a sign around his neck
It was simple, white heavy stock paper
Written on with black magic marker.
I never got close enough to read the sign.
I walked passed on the other side of the road
Careful to avoid an uncomfortable glance.
Yesterday I saw a student in the library
He wore a sign around his neck,
The writing facing his clean pressed shirt;
A social experiment
To see how long people would hold
His gaze before reading the sign on his chest.
I observed this for an hour
And wondered at the awkwardness
Before I took my turn and stared into his eyes
For a solid minute, I thought about the man
On the street corner who I see every day
But have never looked at.
I reached out and turned the sign on the student's chest
“I’m Human,” is all that it said.
I left something in Kentucky
just north of Jellico
lost, now in the Cumberland
Youth is never wasted --
Our youth is spent in waste
When she took my hand and led me
over the rocks and into the stream
I wasn't sure if it was the cold water
or the feel of her skin against mine
that caused my stomach
to clinch and rise to my throat
More likely it was fear
As her body moved over mine
I felt a fearful, spiritual sensation
The sermon that morning
was on the evils of the flesh
and the sin of earthly desire
That preacher had never been chest deep
in a mountain spring
staring up at a noon sun
through strands of auburn hair
and eyes illuminated by water
glistening in the mid-day light
I left her at the mailbox
standing at the intersection
of the gravel road and her dirt driveway
As her fingers slipped from mine
I asked if I could walk her to church
next Sunday, too
I hear sounds from the bedrooms
a mattress squeaking and
a toilet lid dropped hard on the bowl,
a closet door just closed
there are footsteps on the hardwood
I am afraid
that my peaceful morning
is about to end.