When I am working I am happy now.
I meet new people, the good and the bad,
some like me, neither one or the other,
scapegrace or scoundrel but never the good
boy I wanted to be when I grew up
and here I am, too old to tell my age.
There’s this guy who carries around a file.
There’s this guy who drives a car and that’s all.
This is where you come in, my younger friend.
I could be your father. You’ve lived places
I loved in: Seattle to way down here
and south of the water in Mexico,
north again, up to California,
and east: Manhattan, Boston, and western
Massachusetts where you were most likely
conceived if you are my son, and you say
your mother was called Iroquois, in name
only. I remember she brought her dog
at first. He slept by the fireplace and scratched
at the bedroom door when he wanted out,
she went to open the kitchen door, wait
on him to pee in the gravel driveway
sometimes following as far as the grass
above the river and the sycamore
felled by hurricane, and she was naked,
her great breasts still high, she was very young,
as I was but still a little older,
and when we made love her ass moved circles
to completion. And how do you do that?
Try letting a woman do what she wants.
She will always come through for all of you.
Iroquois was stout–she laughed when she heard
me say stout and interrupted, I’m fat!
even though the beer she drank had not yet
taken hold of her. She listened to me
read what I wrote and always had her say.
All the time Irish Cathleen could not stay
home because I drank, stayed out very late
and frequently neglected to come home,
Iroquois lived there after the bars closed.
How old are you now? He said, I don’t know,
I can’t be sure she’s the same one you named.
What was her dog’s name? I poured him a Coke
to go with the ice left. Red Man, I said.
Really? That’s not even funny, you know . . .
Why, what did I say? You asked the dog’s name.
I never heard of a dog called a man,
he protested. I didn’t name her dog,
she did. I was ready to close up now.
You needed to pour your Coke in a cup
as you always did when The Saloon closed.
I walked to Tchoupitoulas to go back
the long way to Adore’s to check on her,
then to HOT HOTEL, leaving you to sleep
in her day room. Adore told me stories
only I wrote down. The stories you wrote
were the ones I had to tell you to live
with myself. I never heard a dog called
Red Man after Irish Cathleen came back
to stay until we returned west. I saw
Iroquois in town every day. She was
fat now. She was said to be great with child.
(16 February 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander