There you were collecting the week’s money
from the cigarette machine at Lenny’s when
he put the gun to your head. Sharp, but quiet.
And you, knowing this was the finale, invited
him to drink. Pulled a new bottle of Seagrams
and two shot glasses from the gold Impala.
Both of you sitting in darkness, near the alley.
Wondering if you should slip out, leave him
the damn car and save your skin, or drink on
and on. You talked of women, his time in jail.
Laughed over slim escapes, the Brooklyn mob.
Blackbirds sang above the corner market,
just hosed down for the day’s mangoes and rum.
You gave him quarters from all the machines-
pinball, jukebox, candy- in one red, plaid bag.
Threw in a carton of Camels and wished him luck,
after such a great night. I loved you for this.
Turning tragedy to story. Each plot putting
the gun down and further away. Savored
your knowing that one small connection might
alter the plan. Laughter and rich tales would
splice the ending, if you could just get there
in time. Words travelled a different alley, less
dank and narrow. Nothing gone but a bag
full of quarters, one night’s sleep and the vast
terror between a dark hunger and speech.