I drove by The Last Mile Lounge the other day. There was a guy standing there, taking a smoke break outside, leaning up against the Perma-Stone exterior, the little window with the Blue Moon neon sign behind him. (How many bars feature Blue Moon, such a neat name, so nice to see those coils of lighted neon in the spring day. Okay, not as nice as as a blooming lilac, but on that sterile corner, it’ll do.) The sunlight was variable, the temperature New England cool. I see this guy from time to time at The Last Mile. I wish he’d stop smoking, but there he was. Maybe it’s just a couple of times a day that he smokes. I don’t know who he is or what he does, but he stops in now and then.

He is, the person himself, just there, in light tan jacket over blue jeans, checkered shirt showing at the neck, hand in pocket. I went by slowly. I waved, why not? He did not hesitate to wave back, though I don’t think he knows me. He looks like the kind of guy that could be a Bruins fan and be sad about their collapse. He could be Celtics fan and plan on being around The Last Mile tonight to see them play the 76s in Game Two of the semifinals and hope they do better than the last time.

Or he might just be a guy with no particular affiliation or distinct interest. I never, when I’ve seen him at the Lounge, spoken with him, found out where he works, why he comes to the Lounge alone, whether he has family. whether he’s married, how old he is, whether he’s ever been to war….just a person before me. A subject, like all of us, of attribution. A singular, unrepeatable mortal.

So imagine my surprise when Deano, the night bartender, told me this guy was a poet. And though he does not drink excessively and might nurse a LaBatt for an hour while reading and scribbling in a notebook, he suddenly swung himself around on the barstool one night (I wasn’t there to see it), and commenced to recite a poem to the perplexed gathering of about a dozen people. He later taped the neatly printed poem up over the sink in the washroom.

I read it as I washed my hands today:

It goes….

Wind made me from carelessly disposed

Ashes stood me

A paragon of flesh and bone where

History wriggles vermin-like behind

The honored stones in distances of sandstone and

Marble and I hear evening laughter falling

Yes I see strands of orange laughter falling out of

Windows high windows those bright strands brush against me, entangle

My feet, yes they brush dead

Against my feet. And I am alive.

No title. If I happened to see him, I think I’ll tell him to call it…


Why not?

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