Breakfast in Constantinople

A collection by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall

An Aging Hunter-Gatherer on Morning Patrol

Up before dawn for coffee with Venus
Cool and dry, a San Diego dawn
Medicines for the creaky old dog
Medicines for the creaky old me

Early to town for a Connie-cut
At girly Designs Et Cetera
North of town past the traffic light
The school board, taxes, marriages, and deaths

A cruise by the Sonic for cholesterol
Home to think about mowing the yard

At the Hissing Electric Eye Doors

An old man shuffles his walker to the doors
The sanitary wipes are to the left
A gum-chewer brushes by with a plastic sack
Ranks of shopping carts rust to the right

A child skips through; her mother yells, “Wait! Wait!”
A three-color circular blows by
An angry woman flings her cigarette down
Right there beneath the NO SMOKING sign

Another old man growls, “Son of a #$&%*!”
Because he’s pulled the cart with a wobbly wheel

Destry Rides No More

The Long Branch Saloon became a Goodwill
And then a souvenir shop, before it burned
The Santa Fe Trail is a two-lane blacktop
Lined with peep shows, tattoo parlors, and KFC

Boot Hill features clean restrooms and a gift shop
Curly the Cowboy cooks at the Dairy Queen
And lives in a trailer next to the pueblo fence
He owns a complete set of Louis L’Amour
(In hand-tooled leather)

John Ford filmed the Duke riding into the sunset
Where the tribal president parks her 250 Ford

Breakfast in Constantinople

The waitress greeted us in Saint Petersburg
We drank strong coffee in Alexandria
Our omelets were served in Cambridgeshire
As we gossiped in the narthex of Hagia Sophia

We briefly sat in the halls of Congress and idled
And said good morning to Shelley and Keats
We admonished die Rheintochter to behave themselves
But they ignored us and flirted with some sailors

What fun in table-talk as the day begins –
There’s nothing more joyful than breakfast with friends!

Goodbye, Shopping Mall

I’m only here for the restrooms, foul as they are
Employees Must Wash Hands
At the end of corridors which end in corridors
Darker and narrower as they go along
Empty spaces, empty stores, emptiness

Someone is sleeping on a decorative bench
No Firearms / Prohibido Portas Armas De Fuego
Outside a nail salon that closed years ago
And a bookstore that closed years ago
And a boutique that closed years ago

The geriatric mall-walkers have arrived
Hide Your Merchandise and Lock Your Car
The few remaining stores don’t open ‘til ten

I Met a Girl in Newfoundland

She was seated behind the courtesy desk
At the Costco in Saint John’s
All bundled up and shivering
On a drizzly morning in July

“Oh, it’s not that cold,” I laughed
“I’ve never been warm in my life,” she replied
“I’ve never been off this island
And I’ve never been warm in my life”

After a pause, I slunk away
To ponder my coldness that summer day

There is No Symbolism in a Flat Tire

There is no symbolism in a flat tire
This morning it was round, and now it is not
Part of it is round, and part of it is flat
Either way, it’s not going anywhere

Not to the movies, or for coffee with a friend
Or to the grocery for that famous loaf of bread
Which through mitosis becomes shopping for a week
And I didn’t know you like asparagus

A tire cannot fly us to the moon with Sinatra
It never could. But Denny’s with you would do

A Chewing-Gum Girl Waiting for the Sunset Limited

Long, long ago

In the station at Tucson we waited
Someone said the locomotive burned in the desert
A girl with earphones chewed gum through the hours:
Roundy-CHOMP, roundy-CHOMP, roundy-CHOMP-CHOMP

Her eyes were closed, her music was her god
She clutched a leatherette case of tapes
Just as some clutch a Bible, and chewed:
Roundy-CHOMP, roundy-CHOMP, roundy-CHOMP-CHOMP

Her mechanical chomps could have been the rhythm
Of the passenger train that wasn’t there
My paperback novel never joined in:
Roundy-CHOMP, roundy-CHOMP, roundy-CHOMP-CHOMP

I don’t remember her boarding the train
That in the evening finally arrived
She might be in the Tucson station still:
Roundy-CHOMP, roundy-CHOMP, roundy-CHOMP-CHOMP

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