Pete just finished a set
playing bongos in the Felipe Suarez Big Band.
Then his phone blew up.
“Yeah?” he answered.
“You broke his fucking nose?” a slightly shrill voice
yelled from the other end.
“He swung at me first,” said Pete.
“You broke his fucking nose! You’re a boxer,
you could’ve blocked or ducked him.”
“He swung at my nose. I just corrected his form.”
“Do you know who he is?”
“He’s the district attorney’s son.”
“So?” said Pete.
“He will ID you.”
“Yeah? And? He swung at me first,
it was self defense.”
“Five minutes.” the stage manager said, poking his head into the green room.
“You need to get outta town. “
He hung up the phone without responding
thinking of Havana in April.
It was a summer theater production
of Edward Bond’s The Sea.
Part of the repertory
of a rundown playhouse
in a small Connecticut town called Ivoryton.
McFay was playing Hatch, the draper.
Drinking in the bar after the dress rehearsal.
“Witches! Hussies!” he bellowed across the bar.
“Keep it down. I’ll put you out on your ear.”
said McMahon, the bartender.
“I’ll have you know, I was once someone
people bought tickets to see.” said McFay.
“Is that so? I was once someone
who got a lot of tickets
and had lots of people to see.” answered McMahon.
“How about another?”
“You’ve had enough, my friend.”
“All’s well that ends well.” said McFay, suddenly deflated.
“What do I owe you?”
“It’s on me.” said McMahon.
“You’re a gentleman and a scholar.”
“I’m neither.” said McMahon.
Up to the knees
in the smell and lasting of it.
We, warriors, laughing
until someone caught a mouthful.
Then, not because we were grown,
but because love’s the Viking maker.
It becomes more desperate then play.
A life or death struggle to avenge impulses.
You will rue the day
you dove into these mud flats.
Rue the day ’til the sun exhausts us.
It’s always been like this.
You hit me when I’m happy
and most vulnerable.
I’ll make you rue the day, damn it.
You’ll have mud coming out your pores
and we’ll laugh again completely.
Not so hard!
And not in the face!
Give me that funky groove.
Now, shake it until you feel better.
Not sort of better,
I mean straight butter better.
You get me?
It’s the rhythm, dig?
The inside pocket.
The beat you feel inside your bones
that won’t let you sleep at night.
He was the straight man.
Naomi was the support for the ingenue.
Wanted to cast him
in the play within the play.
Waited stage left as he exited
after getting a big laugh.
“Why won’t you love me?” she pleaded.
He said nothing
and walked to the dressing room.
Had a sandwich and changed.