A Bottle Of Mateus
At four o’clock in the afternoon the low sun
casts a triangular shadow along the side of the building
diagonally from the top NW corner
down to the lower SE corner, while the rest
of the wall remains sun-bleached yellow stucco,
a pattern repeated every afternoon
until the sun seasonally moves on.
A man walks by the building, an older man
with white hair wearing an oversize white t-shirt,
black walking shorts that were suit pants
until he cut them off just above the knee,
black ankle socks and black wingtip shoes.
The t-shirt and shorts emphasize toneless
white stick arms and legs as he walks at a rapid gait,
his upper body leading the lower half so his head
casts a shadow across his black shoes.
If it were raining, which it is not,
the leather soled shoes would have trouble
getting enough traction to maintain such a pace.
He looks odd, dressing like that to take a walk,
close to the building, scraping against its warmth
on his way to buy a bottle of red wine. Mateus.
Play Autumn Leaves For Me
Slouching on the worn piano bench he uses his
left hand middle finger to hit the white keys
one at a time, each of them successively,
then with his right thumb taps each black key
again one at a time going from west to east
while his feet trundle the pedals in a
left-right left-right rhythm as though
in a chain gang prisoner march.
The sound doesn’t hang in the air for long.
His fingers are neither long nor elegant
like those of a born pianist.
They are short, squat, and his fingernails
are clipped too close, partly because
he wears heavy-duty gloves when shoveling coal.
Brief Bio: Gene McCormick thrives on burnt toast, gorging on it, dipping the blackened pieces in buttercream icing and washing it all down with jugs of Mateus while playing Chopin’s Polonaise in A-flat (Jose Iturbi’s variation) with his left thumb.