Circular Plates Of Iron Surrounding Their Bodies
After Mona stated I would never be the man for her,
she got rid of me.
I wrote twelve love poems in her honor
did no good, some heroic and published poet from France
having captured her heart, so she said,
and always the center of surprise, that one,
so when Herman Hoffstadt announced, “Just came back from
forty deuce. What a thrill Miss Mona put on me.”
I immediately pondered: Could this be my Mona? Since
the dazzling woman forever flirted with imagination’s edge
perhaps, and when I saw her I’d ask for a copy
of the French guy’s poems, then laugh,
flipping her my thirteenth masterpiece with a smile
and welcoming her back with open arms.
The next day we hopped in my van and headed for forty deuce.
Shorty, a black 78 year old ex-con, next to me up front
Herman in back smoking cheap marijuana.
Once there I parked at a meter on 46th and 8th Avenue
and after hiking around for thirty minutes
looking for Mona’s establishment Herman asked, “Which way? ”
“You’re the one who knows, ” I said.
We continued on until we landed in front of
SHOW WORLD. “This ain’t it, ” he said.
“Let’s see naked women, ” said Shorty.
We ambled inside, looked around, left.
After that I went into Arnold’s Smoke Emporium
to buy a corn cob pipe.
Herman said, “I wanna put five on Jumbo in the 9th.”
“You can lose money the rest of your life, ” I said,
“we came here to find Mona.”
“Oh, man, I know Jumbo’s coming up for sure.”
We trudged to the one at the corner of 42nd and Broadway
the place a madhouse, Herman made the bet and lost.
“For the last time where’s Mona? ” I asked him in the street.
“I know she’s somewhere.”
Once we were in the van
Herman told how he lived off a ketchup bottle
for three weeks when he first arrived
in New York from Ohio. “I squirted a dab
on the palm of my hand every six hours. That killed the hunger.”
As I drove home Herman fell asleep in back snoring loudly.
When I saw the Parachute Jump in Coney Island
I asked Shorty, “What’s it all about? ”
“You tickle me, ” he chuckled.
“How’d I wind up like this?
Looking for lost love that most likely never was love.”
“You tickle me, ” he chuckled once more.
“I guess our life is chartered early on.
The rest is contortion and despair.
We’re all in prison, really.”
“Talking like that, ” said Shorty,
his voice ancient and somber,
“you ain’t never
going to make parole.”