Seventy-Two Degrees, Partly Cloudy
Leaning across the table she crooks her index finger
and softly runs it across his cheek, which feels to her
a bit more sunken than the last time she saw him.
She: You’re losing weight.
He: For Christ’s sake, you’ll be knocking over the drinks,
he answers, brushing at her hand, Let me read the paper.
S: Are you trying to lose weight?
S: Well, you look thinner.
H: I’m not. Let me read.
S: What’s so interesting?
H: I’m reading about the Ukraine.
S: What about it?
H: Actually I’m reading the baseball scores.
S: Who won? You know I hate baseball.
H: America’s pastime.
S: Don’t jiggle your leg. The table’s shaking.
S: You look ten pounds lighter.
H: I’m not. Yankees won. Mets lost.
S: Your collar is loose on your neck.
Cocking her head from side to side, studying him
as best she can around and over his newspaper,
she tells him he looks better with some weight off.
H: Your hair looks nice. Is that what you’re fishing for?
S: I’m going to order. Are you ready to order?
H: For CHRISSAKE…
Jazz After Hours : Jammin’
In a retail storefront, rented space just large
enough for an afterhours jam session, two guys,
day jobs done, chill, make small talk and ease
into after dark jazz improvisations.
The taller dude stands as erect as a bugler at revelry,
trumpet in hand, spitting some “April In Paris”
while the sax shoves his glasses up his forehead
and goes with some mellow testing
and then, seamlessly, it is a jam, an oblique riff
with the trumpet on top of the sax, backing off
as the ax starts flowing tamped velvet,
the sax guy into it, grinding the balls of his feet,
closed slits for eyes while hearing all the notes.
Easing off the horn, the trumpeter sits cross-legged
on the hardwood floor pulling myriads of instruments
from sacks and wicker baskets: harmonica,
a children’s xylophone, cow bells, chimes,
a baby blue kazoo, a penny whistle, ping pong balls
all the while rocking side to side mix-managing
musical tools as the sax man contributes
African skin drums and a kalimba.
They are their own audience; a half hour, an hour
passes non-stop blowing-pounding notes that
don’t bounce or reverberate around the empty room;
the essence of cool, they breathe and slide.
Two animated young Latino girls pass by outside,
hearing the darkened storefront yield the blues.
They try the door, holler Yo! It rattles but is locked.
(The door is of old wood with chipped and peeling
white lead paint, warped from tens of years
of Midwest weather but still able to keep
things out and things in. A pulled shade covers
the window). The girls shrug and move on, unnoticed.
The music continues.
Just Walking In The Rain
Parking in the busiest area of the mall, he deliberately chooses a section surrounded by cars and pedestrians then quietly sat in the car, engine off, no radio.
Side mirror peeking is his thing, looking out the side window at the mirror revealing a candid, oblong glimpse of ordinary people doing ordinary things framed in a private keyhole…a person walking to or from their car or a nearby store or wherever. Panoramic sighting is best, looking from one side mirror to the interior mirror over the dashboard to the mirror on the other side of the car, tracking.
It’s a cold, hard, steady early spring rain that turns tree bark deep brown, dripping from leaves and near-bare branches, unimpeded drops pinging the sidewalks and streets with force, splashing.
Her rain jacket comes to mid-thigh with red leggings below the hem of the raincoat turned red to maroon by the rain; her skin underneath the tights, soaked, takes a pinkish hue, cold to the touch. Pressing her hand on her knees creates a pale blotch which disappears and becomes pink again almost instantly.
And noise; the rain taps through the thunder glistening everything, blanched by flashes of lightning.
The black car pulls alongside the girl, slowing to a crawl, its engine inaudible over the rain beating on its hood and roof. The driver lowers the passenger side window. Would you like a ride? he asks and she leans toward the window feeling the warmth of the car interior, opens the door and gets in without an answer. Drenched, she shrugs out of the raingear, lays it in the back and then raises up, hooking her thumbs under the elastic edge of her leggings and peels them down, pulling out one leg at a time, noting the pinkness. She rubs at them with the dry portion of the leggings.
Back and forth, the windshield wipers slap on high speed, and for a few minutes are the only sound heard other than jolting rain. Are you headed anywhere special? the middle-aged driver asks and looking straight ahead she says No. No, I’m not. I’m not headed anywhere special.