I pick up in New Sharon says
He’s popping Percocet like M&M’s.
Worked on bridges, hurt his back.
Twisted it like a stressed strut.
Seen docs, pt’s, even a lady who stuck
Hot needles in him.
They tell you it’s gonna work and you believe ’em
Because what are you gonna do?
Snowless, ugly, brown January outside.
Trees waiting, grass waiting, rivers frozen.
What’s the point of this? He blurts it,
More to the windshield than to me.
Repeats it more loudly,
Starts drumming two fingers on the dash:
Pitta pat, pitta pat, pitta pat.
Ummm, I twitter like a broken radio,
Turn toward him, shake my head wearily,
A brimming, perplexed offering.
Kindness knots my throat like bile.
Shit, he says, then smiles halfheartedly.
I can’t bend over to shoot eight ball.
Here I am livin’ on earth—
He pauses, looking at himself through words—
And I can’t shoot eight ball. I was a king.
I stop the headshaking, stifle a dazed scream,
Mumble about logs on the pulp truck
Before us, breathe out fatalist
Bacilli from my own soggy soul.
Outside the drugstore
That’s advertising specials on Corona and Oreos
We say goodbye. If you know someone
Who needs a fucked-up welder, I’m the man.
Limps off, door closes, car moves, sky trembles—
A deep, insouciant blue.