poem: one am or so in a smoking room

3 Oct

Theo walks into Joey’s Italian Restaurant
in Flushing, near the airport
La Guardia
New York
bright lights, big city
whatever

sits in the back booth
under the big screen
a hangover keeps reminding him
just say no

Lucy, a modest waitress
doing time in a low rent
walks over
speaks in dialect
Queens

howsit goin’, she said
you know? ’bout the same, he said
i’m just askin’, you know? she said
bout the same, he said, eyes drifting
from first to third gear

neighborhood bar, Joey’s
modest
like Lucy
next to a barbershop
a New York barbershop
on Astoria Boulevard

you from ’round here, she said
he said, not so much
so? she said
so? he said
whatev-a’, she said

table six needs napkins
Uncle Zito and Aunt Sallie need their plates cleared
a drunk guy, new guy, guy no one really knows much about
just stares into a half empty beer

you know Frank O’Hara? he said
not so much. he from ’round here? she said
not so much, he said downtown, Manhattan
so why ask? she said

Theo pulls a tattered text from a weary hand-me-down
leather jacket his older brother, Bobby Junior, wore
before he went through Rikers then upstate

so you orderin’ or what, she said
yeah, what’s good?
i’ll order for ya, you’ll just fuck it up, she said
yeah, okay, he said

three blue collar barnstormers
burst the front door
laughing about anything
happy to not be at home

cars rush down Astoria Boulevard
cigarettes cost 10 bucks at the gas station
an old lady with a limp clutches her purse
passenger van from the Marriott bring tourists
rats scamper behind a dumpster

a full moon lifts above the landscape
settles behind fog
Lucy picks up empty plates
Frank O’Hara says hello

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