A Porterhouse Steak

Some mornings
won’t quite let you
forget foolishness
from the night before
with dull aches or
a hammer lodged
in your skull taking
free swings against
unvarnished stupidity
of intoxicant indulgence.

Somewhat kinder
but no less a mortgage
to be paid
for the same
are the bills that come later.
A charge that had
faded into memory
like a sports hero
drained of talent
of youth in an ancient
uniform coming out
for a last final bow
to a half empty crowd.

The bill reminded me
that weeks ago
I ordered an expensive
meal during an alcohol
fueled blackout I am
only dimly aware of.

Might’ve been better
to buy a limited edition
of a favorite writer
or a good used suit
or a a pair of shoes
I could dance in dreams with.

But a ninety dollar dinner
for one, without desert,
at a steakhouse seems
more than excessive
especially with little
to celebrate, sober or not.
I now take from the freezer
a frozen five-dollar dinner.

Watch it heat,
nearly burn in
the microwave
the way only
macaroni and cheese
with mushrooms can.

Damaged Yet Beautiful

This sweeping dance
to the chaos
you’re partial to
I see begin again.
Through your flair
for improvisation
like a misplaced
jazz singer

accelerated by
amphetamine tablets
headlong headfirst
to errors of choice,
debts multiplied,
scattered jobs
too marginal even
for tax returns.

Always being rescued
not from dragons or villains
but by deep pockets
of random strangers
for whom beauty
is a worthy prize
to be savored
until the shine
wears off and you’re back
to square one
having cheap liquor
in a bar on someone
else’s dime
by the dozen.

While half hidden
in a corner stool
I want to confess my love
but the blaring music
would bury my words
next to my heart
trampled by others
in the rush to have you
even half passed out.

I am just an admirer
you’ve done nothing more
than exchange greetings with
a few times.

So, I hit a few
sad songs on the jukebox
and make bets
with the bartender
on who takes you home

A Cocktail Lounge

On the West Side, on Ninth
or Tenth avenue,
after a night of fights
at The Garden, just before
I got out of promoting

It was an old, tired joint
where any sparkle
was in the fake stones
the whores wore walking
in to use the john
and just as quickly
walking out.

Bailey was a middle aged
Irishman who had a
quick temper and a scar
on his face from when
he brought fists to a knife fight
and not surprisingly
came in second.

We were enjoying
the cheap watered-down tap
beer that cost a fraction of
what the garden charged for
the same. Bailey was giving
advice on love.

You don’t understand man,
this girl wants to be put down.
She’s into that S&M shit
because no man’s given her
a good stud ramming. You can’t
be sensitive with this
broad, she’ll walk all over you.

I was about to argue
When a sharply dressed Hispanic
sitting next to Bailey got up
and said to me, Listen to this man
stabbing a finger at Bailey.
He knows what’s up.
Sir, I have to go, but I want to
shake your hand before I do.  

Then man clasped Bailey’s
hand with both of his. A
firm shake between two men
from the same old school.
Smiling broadly, the old hipster
said, you school this young
fella or the women will leave him
naked on the highway without shoes.
Never immune to praise
of any kind, Bailey grinned
broadly and said, I will. 

After the man left, we had two
or three more beers. Suddenly,
Bailey got up
and said, Son of a bitch.
He stole my ring! When we
were shaking hands! It was true!
Bailey had been picked clean
as a passed out drunk
on a park bench.

Bailey, who seldom wore jewelry
had picked the wrong night
for it. The bartender gave us
a free round for our trouble.
We drank it then stumbled
our separate ways home, him
thinking about a ring, and me
thinking about a girl
who thought rough sex
was the only kind.
And for a time, it was.