The last thing you say echoes back to you
when you live alone. That’s where songs come from.
If not for Bushmill and Jameson
who would have a life to call his own?
When the loon flies over and calls to you,
you wake and pour elixir to start the day.
One day walking under a red wing’s nest,
she swooped to touch my hat with claws.
On down the street I came upon a man
pointing at two cars touching bumpers.
He was cackling, no need to ask why.
I went on down to the beach where I swim.
I don’t stay away long. It’s unnerving
to come upon refugees from group homes.
I prefer the unerring sanity
of men sitting on park benches drinking
from the paper sack, toothless, ill at ease
though they may be. Still, they laugh and chuckle.
I ask who they are. They tell me. I give
what I have to these Ojibwe, not much
but a little they did not have before
and with no home to go to, though family
will give them a bed out of the weather
simply to stay alive and yes, stay sane.
I never follow anybody home.
Not even the Navajo in Okie Joe’s
that time. He said come out to the desert
and talk about Indians since I had
Cherokee in my ancestry. I showed
the letter from my mother saying so.
Because it’s cold here where I live now
I stay warm from the whiskey. My one friend
brings me bottles of the Irish. It’s all
I can afford. I’m lucky. I pass time
to pay my dues. Whiskey is why I wake–
one way to live when all you need is sleep.
(23 October –22 November 2010)