Steinway Street: portraits from the past: my life in retail: addendum: CODA: The Phone Calls

CODA: The Phone Calls

you try to tell them what you’re doing
only they’re not listening to what you’re saying
just listening for clues
as to why you’re not seeing them any longer
how to explain
this stalling of time
as you regroup your resources
after all you’ve lost
all you’ve walked away from
so you tell stories of shoplifters
amusing incidents of customer relations
of the holdup and the gun
waved in your face
and though you try to tell about the people
how could they understand anyway
insulated in their age
their positions in life
how could they understand how these kids
these young people
are changing you
not the mind because that was changing anyway
but the heart
that was the surprise
and the walls
where are the walls when you need them
but these ladies can’t hear
one understands the people not the job
one understands the job not the people
and the third understands nothing
the ears were deaf long before you started talking
you think Jane would understand
then think no
she would just listen
then walk away blank as before
you say to the shot glass
have never been my forte
and the sadness starts to settle in again
another shot
another wasted phone call
another staring at the printed page
life goes on
and you go with it
writing and reading and watching the light
on the Empire State Building
turn off
and thinking
I must hold out longer
she will come
she will come
so you close your eyes
take a drink
and listen to the clouds
fall asleep on the couch
and wake with the wind in your face
sometime near morning

Steinway Street: portraits from the past: my life in retail: addendum: The Glasses

The Glasses

are gone
you discover that in the morning
on your way to the subway
when the street looks blurry
and you remember a sign
First Avenue
and think
they’re somewhere on First Avenue
and feel slightly sicker than you felt in the shower
when you realized that not only were you still drunk
you had to be at work in 45 minutes
there is no sympathy from the girls
they giggle and shake their heads
and when you ask for something with dough to eat
Julie brings back MacDonald’s animal crackers
and then proceeds to eat half of them
Zaida looks pained
but eats a few too
and Luz could give a damn
you’re left with 4 cookies
that lousy coffee
and Stacey who comes in at 2 to gloat
you wonder if this is what poetic justice is
especially after that tirade in the bar
about the youth of today
you know your ex-wife would say
see why I married someone boring
and you think yeah
yeah I see
though not so well
without the glasses
and thank whoever’s listening there’re no trade-ins
and beg your favorite ladies
to please not take advantage of an aging fool
you also swear to give up drinking
but know your oaths lately are not to be trusted
and somehow someway
the day ends
you drag ass to the subway
and go home to bed
to sleep like the baby
you never were

from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Leonard Durso

“And again he thought the thought we already know: Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can only make one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various decisions.
History is similar to individual lives in this respect…..

….History is as light as individual human life, unbearably light, light as a feather, as dust swirling into the air, as whatever will no longer exist tomorrow.”

translated by Michael Henry Heim

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