OLD MAN IN A DINER IN FAIRFIELD, IOWA WEARING A COWBOY HAT

Hell

a man’s crazy to kill hisself for 5 dollars an hour

or for a woman whose teeth is gonna fall out.

When I was a boy we used to carry rocks out of the fields

so they scraped the skin off the bones between our shoulders

just to show how dumb we were.

Now days I use a wheelbarrow and pray I don’t step in a hole.

*

You take my wife.

She’s got all the same teeth now she did on our wedding.

Cause she caught a rock in her mouth when she’s a kid.

Candy got the rest but 6 before she was 19.

*

Had a brother once.

Worked hisself to death up in Des Moines

bent over a punch press

after the war.

*

I feel good now!  I feel fine!

With all this snow in my hair   there ain’t no

excuse for it!

*

College boy asked me my name.

Said it was Jim Duggan.

Asked me what it meant.  Said “Not a god

damned thing far as I know!”

*

Owls once in a while hoot behind our barn.

Crows wake me up!

One or two old bull frogs hunched up in the pond

bellowing through the fog.

Crickets by the thousands singing to Jesus.

Momma told me that when I was a kid but I never

believed her.

Said those crickets were singing to Jesus!

Still crawl under the house to insulate a pipe or two.

Don’t know what else I can.

Government thinks I died in the war.

You believe that?

Started sending my wife checks in 1944.

Sent her a damn flag!

I gave the flag to a Mexican for a folding knife.

Sent the checks back with a note

“Not dead yet.”

*

What I like to see

are these small town Iowa girls

coming out of cosmetology schools with their hair scraped to the bone.

They look like a bulldozed field with the topsoil sold.

I saw one getting into a corvette stingray painted black and yellow to look like a tiger

and her with hair to match!

I waved my cane to her.

It don’t cost nothing to be nice!

*

One time Momma’s lap dog bit the preacher on the end of his nose!

Daddy laughed like a bluejay!

Said it served the shitass right for tempting the dog that way.

Course he hated the dog too.

*

Daddy snored so loud

he and Momma slept in different parts of the county.

Finally got so old we had to bring him into town.

Started hanging his underwear up in the closet on hangers.

Sat sideways on the pot and watched water

drip in the sink and go down the hole.

*

One time when Daddy had moved out to Wapello County

just close enough to Ottumwa to smell it

he said Wapello women treat a man better than Jefferson County women do.

He was already an old man when he fell in love

with a 3 year old mare.

Red all over but one white ear and a place on her hip.

Daddy got to picking ticks off her the way men do

and she got to lifting her tail the way a mare will

and he got to rubbing around under there

the way she liked it.

Then she got to waiting for him by the door of his shack

with her back legs spread out whinnying like Gypsy Rose Lee!

Momma heard about it and got mad as hell

cause of the grandboys out there watching him.

Daddy laughed and went on with his business.

.

.

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