Eating beignets at Café du Monde without regret at having saved none for you

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Look under the chair for a cigarette I dropped
Hit my head on the edge of the table
Jump up and down on a tiny volume of Spenser
The coffee is thick and black as sepia
tasting like treebark
even through the unaccustomed tablespoons full of white sugar
This patio full of lawn furniture bravely rebelling against
salt air and fat tourist asses
I watch them all walking by on Decatur Street
hands filled with bags
convention buttons
and prophecies picked up cheap from some
two bit Madame So-And-So
I push an entire brick of soft greasy sugarbread
into my mouth
and take a smarting swallow of dredge mud

I don’t really live here
I say to them
But the crucial difference is that if I were you
I’d have used cream
and noted that it did not sit well atop the hot dog
unwitting bought from Ignatius on the far side of Jackson Square

No, I don’t live here
I live in a far away land full of frightened armadillos
                        (There are armdaillos to be had here as well
                        The Southern variety do not carry so much leprosy)
I fight for parking spaces during football games
just as you do in Green Bay
Children in tow unashamedly sporting pudgy bellies
in half shirts like a testimony to the final days of Summer
You are the one who carries a tiny television into the stands
afraid to open your eyes to the wide screen behemoth
stretched before you
a mass of pink marks on the unhealthy pallor of concrete

The crucial difference is that I am not you
I am waiting for someone here where
the only thing remarkable about you
is an out of state plate
and a void on your arm where she might have been

Published in The Midland Review No. 7, Spring 1991.

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