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A Poem: This Time Around 

For my birthday I wanted to get a burger & a beer
and to roll up my sleeves carelessly to let the greasy juice
slide down over my wrists and along my forearms
to my elbows balancing here on the edge of this formica table
and not to care; to drink the beer in gulps inelegant
and unhurried cracking the bottle(s) down thoughtlessly
once and again with a loud thwack on this same
slippery surface saying, “that’s one, & that’s another;
& there . . . & there . . . & there again.”

And just so to celebrate in this simplest of ways
the passing of time, my time, its measure:
what there’s been of it, and to get some sense
of what’s left of it to me in the oniony drift of the air
upwards into the salty gloom licking along the limits
of what’s yet on offer—a piece perhaps of pie thickly
wedged alongside a steaming mug of something black
& strong like the darkness just beyond my reflection
in the window where a mean swirl of windblown
scraps of “might-have-beens” & “couldn’t-possibly-be’s”
gutter crazily.

As from across the room the waitress is coming
my way check-in-hand, a pretty girl, impossibly
young & poised to ask the question that’s been wanting
all the while, “Will there be anything else, sir?
Anything at all?”

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Speaking of Poetry

  • A poem by William Hayes.

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