Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Night in the Poke

Night in the Poke
Or The Period of Darkness between Beer and Bail

A wagon shudders in idle, pumping
gray smoke through morning streetlights
filtered through Father’s whiskers, buckled
in the front seat while Gene Chandler croons,
the Marcels doo-wop about the moon
and three cigarettes are pulled down to ash.

Mother sits in the entrance hall – a cold, tile place.
Yellow in false lighting, her buzzing hands
fold neatly over her purse, perched in her cross lap,
her anxious toe, a plush metronome of moccasin on floor.

And me, stirring on a cement slab,
half-roll of toilet paper as my pillow.
Sleep comes briefly. A pocketful
of silver change and superfluous prophylactics.

Jagged slices shorn from a thick log,
pads of white bread, two of the best
bologna sandwiches I’ve ever tasted,
washed down with a mouthful at the fountain.

I imagine myself with a poncho and a cigar,
eyes shielded by a sloping brim, the dusk
receding behind me, my large shadow
cast upon the barroom floor.
I reach for my hip as the doors swing shut

and I am booked for
indecent something-or-other,
public what-have-you.

The drunk poured into the room beside me, he jumped off a bridge.
He calls me Mr. State’s Attorney’s son
because I pronounce my innocence well.

Hey, he shouts.
I trace the grout between cinder blocks with my toe.
Hey, Mr. State’s Attorney’s son…
I peel open an eye, fluff my paper pillow and respond,
Don’t worry, man – I’ll get us outta here.

--JIM DAVIS is a graduate of Knox College and now lives, writes and paints in Chicago. His work has been selected to appear in The Ante Review, The Café Review, Chiron Review, Midwest Literary Magazine, and Red River Review, among others. In addition to the arts, Jim travels the world as an international semi-professional football player. See his artwork at www.paintstrong.com.

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