A poem for this evening. I'm sitting in my living room, sipping cinnamon tea (it's below zero outside) (yes, I plugged the car in), and I have absolutely nothing to do. Actually, no, I have plenty to do, I'm just choosing to be bored instead. I could alphabetize my library, organize some composition readings, mop my floors, fold the heap of laundry in the basket... So I sink into the couch even further, crack open my copy of B Is For Bad Poetry and try to beg some ideas out of it. For one reason or another, all I can picture is the drugstore that used to stand on Vista Drive when I was growing up in Ferndale, Washington. I started thinking about crazy old men and nice old men. I thought about whether women should be real or fake.
Anyone want cocoa?
TWO MEN WATCH A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN WALK BY
and they’re not so pretty themselves,
slumped against the drugstore window.
The younger one holds a lady’s purse,
lumpy white leather with gold buckles.
The older man (maybe they’re brothers,
the way they lean toward each other
when they speak) (or cousins,
they drink from separate soda cans)
the older one says, under his breath,
that woman there is about as authentic as
those rosary bracelets my first wife used to buy,
the kind that cost a fortune even though
they always had an odd number of beads.
It’s supposed to be ten, right,
the younger asks, louder than the older man,
ten Hail Marys at a time, right?
Yeah, but my point is that lady over there
is up to her eyeballs in fake body parts.
God bless her, the younger one says,
tucking the purse tighter beneath his armpit.
This thing is god-awful heavy, he adds,
but the older man says stop whining,
and they finish their sodas in peace.