I Need a Subsidy for This -- Mark Garduno

A camel, when I was very young but not
infantile, bespewed onto my only baseball jacket
from a short distance, marking him as not only
an asshole, but one with issues. Of course,
being who and what I was at that certain age,
I could never wear that baseball jacket again
and probably handed it down—indirectly
to young J H. He is currently selling
gentlemen's clothing in a better than
second best part of San Francisco
to the better-bunned aspect of our
demography. We visited with C.
and her husband, M, at their home in SF
where M. (a cocky fuck, withal) stepped out
to the garden and returned with calla lilies.
I tried to maintain an air of insouciance
and nodded over to L who fucked the whole
charade by leaving her mouth so enviously open.
Damnit, she used to live in California,
but I have to admit to being more
than a little but impressed
by that stunt myself.( We had
visited the O'Keeffe museum
in Santa Fe maybe two years ago
and I had the wondrous epiphany of seeing
one of her renderings of an alligator pear:
"alligator pear, crocagator pear,
that's why they's so mean") Pardon
my inability to remember dialogue.
But I'll wager you get the point.
To this day, I cannot approach a camel,
sidle up to llamas warily, and don't mess with goats at all.
I've watched-even encouraged, chickens to eat cigarette butts,
and had two sheep ostensibly in my care slaughtered
in their pen by a pair of marvelous white dogs
which, if we are to believe their owner,
actually had to set aside the unmelted pats
of butter they normally held in their maws
while they committed this assault.

Sheep are, as I expect you know, pretty
dumb. I first took care of these two when they
pastured behind the Peaceful Valley Motor Inn
with two Guernseys. I worked as a printer
during the day and was the concierge
evenings at this motel. There are nuances
here I am reminded of that I lack the time
to get into and that's too bad. There were folks
who bear acknowledgement: Judy.Al. Jack,
a man I'd met as a largely absentee landlord
where V and an awful crew rented from him—
a man who straightened nails. A piker,
if you recall your Irish. Jack was a man
who straightened nails, cut corners, bent rules,
and had an old friend start a fire in the building
I was living in because the heat was getting too intense
from his investors. These were fellows
who used to arrive conspicuously in black limos
in Pownal Vermont where anybody with a pickup truck
and a baseball cap was a contractor.
Jack's mistake was in telling me that
he used to work with a fellow named Mark.
He even went so far as to describe him
as a tall man, and thin. A tall, thin man
named Mark visited the motel
the night it burned to the ground.
The fire started, as nearly as I can tell,
in the eaves. Mark was told, by me,
that Jack didn't live here. He lived
in Virginia and raised chickens with
his omnisexual wife,
the eight foot tall red-head.

What do you want: blow by blow?
I haven't the patience to proust it out —
Under this tent we have the promises,
the lies, the sorry girls, the fat ones,
the ones who swallowed. In this ring
we have this failed marriage, this sad
mis-step, and the wick-dipping
we'll never speak of again. We all
have the lost loves and we all
had the chance to move on and,
you know, I didn't. Oh,
it is a matter of record that I
didn't join a monastery.

I was thinking today, oddly enough, of
my second wife's grave, and did it still have
a stuffed bear, matted by seasons, by its marker?
I need a subsidy for this.

You want stories? Fuck, man, I am
where they go; I got a trusting face. At the end
of the day I need to wipe off other peoples' smiles.

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