Three Men in the Breeze

Pinned to Ted’s chest a list of opinions
changed daily like a tie or underwear
and on his forearms his feelings tattooed
in secret for most days he felt nothing
unless he rolled up his sleeves

which he often did when Jocko came in
stinking of the couch where he put all
his cards into watching sports on TV
exercising his extensive vocabulary
culled from an encyclopedia of games

while story after story after story came
from the very vocal pen of one high
falutin bird dogging Mitch whose body
still twitched from his days in the ditch
of public service (“The buck stoppeth
here,” he liked to say, “safely in my
pocket. I did my time, it’s your round
to buy.”)

Mr. Moneybone knew all about finance
and happily pulled out a wad and spat
into a gold spittoon declaring one
on him for the whole house

though only Agnes in her corner chair
sipping rye correcting papers and
doubting Tom at the end of the bar
where the petrified wood curved
all the way into Montana and now

all their words gone to seed
mixed on the sawdust floor
with that tracked in from the road
in the Breeze a one draft pub
they considered their last deed.


Working Class Pub

Where no one knows your real name where indeed you have no name but any number of names but no number but you wear your identification it shows is shown in the red dust around your eyes and there’s a glimmer suggests you’re still alive and at the corners of your lips the moisture of bird feathers and your hands are calloused black and blue and your clothes are stained with oil and grease and chalk and shavings of wood, metal, and paint. This pub plays no music, which you wouldn’t be able to hear clearly anyway. No darts. No pool table. No television sets. No chess board, no backgammon, not even caroms. No playing cards. There’s coffee twenty-four hours a day for those just getting going, first cup free, the swing shift, the night shifts, at the factory, in the warehouse. The oil fields behind the houses. The docks on the bay. Molly brings you your pint, with a little cup of salted peanuts in the shell on the house. Will Molly please text home for you, a bit late, might stay for a second pint tonight, being’s it’s Saturday night, and you’re walking, or was when you got here.