Armand Poetry

Welcome to Armand Poetry. The poems (and other words) here are composed for my own thought and amusement. Comment and discussion are welcome. -Amore, Armand-

Monday, January 24, 2005

But For The Grace

It was still dark when he opened his eyes. The alarm had not yet gone off. His newly wakeful right ear caught the flapping of the plastic numbers switching from 5:59 to 6:00. A small sound which would normally go unnoticed in the commotion of the day, at this hour, was amplified by the otherwise silent predawn room. He had no urge to reach for the lamp next to the clock. Pink light washed through the window looking onto the 24 hour parking lot, which at this hour was not yet filled with the freshly washed cars of money managers, stock brokers, and real estate tycoons who, being late for work, never noticed the YMCA holding a sleepy eye fixed on the lot which used to be its athletic field. As he sat up in bed, pushing the sheets aside, the strip of white light beaming from under the door made him curse. The hall light which was too bright. The hall light which was always on. The hall that marked the end of his privacy and the diminishment of his dignity. He turned on the table lamp, filling the room with light, pushing the mean white of the hall and the creeping pink streetlight back under the door and out the window where they could hopefully be forgotten.

There was a triple crack in the mirror, which was covered with dull brown spots he hoped were some kind of rust. The lower part of his face was shifted to the left a full two inches, his jaw slightly at an angle. Somehow he had three nostrils. One blue eye was larger than the other; both streaked with red, pupils cowering in the new light. He was thinking how did it come to this? when he said to himself "Stan, you are a dirty rotten bastard." He was already dressed. He slipped into his ordinary shoes, not the cordivans he kept polished in his suitcase waiting to be worn on a hoped-for job interview. Putting on a wool cap, he looked again in the mirror. The hat seemed to be holding the pieces together well enough, so he grabbed his overcoat and took his wallet out of the inner pocket. He opened it. "Damn." He grabbed the clock-radio off the table, wound the cord around it, and bundled it up inside his coat. Stuffing the wallet in his pocket, he turned to the door, and shuffled as fast as he could through the horrible hallway toward the stairs.

He almost made it. As he heard the flush behind the closed door of the community toilet, he quickened his pace toward the stairwell door. Mr. Robbins beat him there. "Good morning Stan." "They say its going to rain again today; what do you say?" He didn't answer, but quickly raised and lowered his hand in a simultaneous gesture of Hello and Goodbye thinking he didn't even wash his hands. He flew down the stairwell two or three steps at a time, putting as much distance as possible between himself and the unwashed, overly cheerful Mr. Robbins. He continued to rush through the lobby, past the front desk. "Hey man!" "It's the 3rd already; you're late!" The clerk started to put down his newspaper. "The bank opens at nine; I'm on my way to take care of it right now." Stan was a bad liar. As his foot hit the street and the door to the Y swung behind him, he thought he heard "I'm gonna lock you out if you don't....."

The Casa de Empeno opened at 7:00. The unlocked iron folding gate was being shoved aside by a small, balding man in his forties who had reluctantly taken on the family business after a failed career in broadcast radio. Esteban Ortega had never understood why his show was cancelled. Public radio, it seemed, had an image problem that he couldn't quite understand. He watched Stan enter the shop and head straight for the front counter. "What do you got?" "A clock" said stan. "A clock-radio with an alarm....AM-FM." "Where'd you get it?" "I got a new one for my office, so I don't need this one anymore." Stan was a bad liar. Esteban unwound the cord and plugged it in to see if it was working. There was a silver sticker on the bottom that said Property of San Diego YMCA, San Diego CA. 92101. "I'll give you five bucks for it." Stan hesitated, "hey man, it's got a radio in it." Esteban knew his business. "Five Bucks, take it or leave it." Five dollars later, Esteban was shaking his head, watching Stan leave the shop.

The liquor store was crowded by now, with busy office workers, fighting for their coffee and doughnuts. Stan walked straight to the back, pretending to look for some unfound sundry. There was a sudden erruption of cursing and epithets as two boys, maybe fourteen, were being denied a box of Marlboroughs. The owner had already lost several hundred dollars in fines this year, and wasn't about to lose his license. Stan moved quickly and silently. A bottle of Chavez in the inner pocket. Two bottles of wine, one in each hip pocket. He walked to the doughnut case and chose the last jelly, and filled a styrofoam cup with crappy day old coffee. When he got to the counter. The owner was still ruffled from his argument with the teens. "Breakfast special, $1.35" Stan handed over the two bucks and waited for his change. As the yuppies outside were making their way to work, Stan headed down the block toward the park and his usual spot.

The Scotch hit the back of his throat with a sting of pleasure. He had journeyed far this morning through the desert. Now, in this oasis, with the means to quench his thirst, he did not hold back. The shade of the eucalyptus trees and elms enveloped Stan as he slipped into a comfortable stupor on the park bench, no dreams, no lies, no hallway, and no light.


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