Monday, November 22, 2010

"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out"

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)

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