My Friend

I loved bar room fights.
I fought the biggest meanest men
I could find.
the patrons thought I was

but it was something else, something
that walked and slept and sat with
me. it ate with me when I ate,
it drank with me when I drank.
I saw it everywhere: in loaves
of bread, on the back of a mouse
running up the wall, I saw it through
torn window shades, I saw it
in the bodies of beautiful women;
I never saw it in the sun but I saw it in
insects; and I saw it riding in buses
and trolley cars;
I saw it in the dresser drawer when I
pulled it open,
I saw it in the faces of
bosses with their dumb wet lips and
little rivet eyes: blue, brown,
I heard it in the click of timeclocks,
saw it spread like powder across the
faces of my landladies;
I saw it it on the bar
leading to the 2nd
floor of some rooming house in
Houston, New Orleans, in St. Louis,
in L.A., in Frisco;
and I saw it in the doorknobs and I saw
it in the rooms, sitting on the
waiting nicely...
and in some bar after hours of drinking
somebody says, "hey, Hank, you
ever tried Big Eddie?"
Big Eddie grins, I see it in his
teeth, I finish my beer,
nod at him, get up, walk to
the rear entrance, Big Eddie and
the crowd following, and outside
I see it in the moon and the
as the patrons lay their bets
I am the underdog, and as Big
Eddie charges I see it in his
feet and on the buttons of
his shirt and I hear a horn
sound somewhere far off, and
it's as decent a thing as a man
can know.