All Hallows Eve

NITELIFE
Driven from the light
forced to hole up
in the folds of wood
siding with loneliness,
the isolation of the different
way to go, champ
yawning in the shadowless
vertical light of midday
glancing ’round the hedges
to be sure no autos
approach the mail box.
Then darting, casually, though
(so’s not to stand out,)
and retrieving the news
to boil his blood
with biased editing
and successful attempts
at turning the readership
into good, God-fearing Nazis.
Boiling his blood purposefully
since the coffee was hot
and raising his ambient temperature
mitigated the extremity
of thermal contrast.
He used to play basketball,
right after the lay-off,
boss he’d gone to college with
who flunked out after first year,
leaving him to be matched wi’the
son of the USIA Director in Chile.
Who was smarter than anyone,
(just ask him,)
and who had no friends,
he so transparent
in rip-off schemes
everyone avoided him.

Ten minutes notice

after six months’ lies.

Good treatment
in lower Manhattan
after the stock market crashed.
He’d delayed his move to Seattle
for what his boss’d predicted
“four months, max”
to get a replacement
for the associate
that’d left him in the lurch,
“fucked” him like every other
person he’d ever worked with.
No surprise when the months
stretched into a year …
the case load fourfold
with willingness to work
nights and weekends
and not pressure his pal
for raises since starting a business
is difficult and we need
a little help from our friends.

Basketball worked,
an endorphin high
to replace the weed no longer affordable
as his blackened, yuppie martini,
a joke, since he was an “arssie,”
(ageing rural support staff.)
The trail wound basketward
through the woods, crossing a creek
and three downed trees
before rising into the broad field
sloping down to the courts
of the town park in the sunshine.
Pre-schoolers herded by
a paranoiac, it turned out,
who squinted at him and ran
over to say he couldn’t be there
during work hours
since the childrens’ security
was of paramount importance.
He wanted to explain
but realized that he’d lose
any encounter, maybe even end up charged
for demanding his right
to use public parks
during hours when normal people
were at their nosey grindwheels,
public perception having yet
to catch up to employment reality.
Night basketball became
everything at night,
and the longer the country went
into the recession
the farther he receded from daylight
and the less likely it became
that he would act naturally
in the daylight
ever again. Awake in the
late, uncrowded, night.
When the tourists
and normal folks went to bed,
leaving empty chairs
at which unemployed lunatics
could drink their impoverished
cups of caffeine.
© J. Risdon 1992

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