Inside the Pipe Room, which is the hometown dive
where all the locals play pool and guzzle beer,
a cute short blonde woman, seven years my senior,
who used to be a sergeant in the US Army, says,
“He doesn’t respect me.” She’s talking about her
fiancé, a philosophy professor at Saint Francis.
He’s twenty years her senior and makes a lot of money.
He wants to give her a good life with stuff and credit
cards that don’t have limits. She’s miserable.
She’s supported herself since she was seventeen,
and she doesn’t need his help (though she’s drinking
on his MasterCard), and besides, he reads too many books.
“I read a lot of books,” I say. “That’s different,” she says.
She’s right, but I don’t know why. I buy her a vodka.
The smoke here is unbelievable. The jukebox is too loud.
Somehow, I’ve convinced myself that I’m getting laid.
She puts the next round and the next on his MasterCard.
She kisses me full on the mouth. Then it’s last call.
She says, “He crushes my dreams with his cynicism.”
Sometimes I crush my own dreams with my own cynicism.
Outside, there is rain, and whatever else we have at home.
—from Rattle #31, Summer 2009