covers by Edgar Comenrath
There was a ancient carved fixture of marble and wood that housed the bottles of liquor and the drinkers at the bar. The carvings would not have been out of a place in a European Cathedral, a pillar around which the remainder of the edifice was built.
The photographs on the wall of parties, portraits of a Southern City, and Derby winners left an aura of immortality to the establishment. Millions of people had been through its walls. The food was great. I took my first love there.
I drove down Oak Street the morning I left town and could see that it had burned to the ground, a pile of ashes and bricks.
Fourth and Magnolia
I always had a sad story
from bums and crack fines that would
try to get money from white boys.
“You scare ’em they’ll probably
give you something
to go away.”
First they try to make eye contact;
get you to acknowledge them.
“I was wonderin’ if you could help me with a little change,”
he said threateningly.
“Sorry man I ran out of gas two fucking miles from here,
no money and I had to walk, I ain’t even home yet.”
Ask him for something.
“You don’t have another cigarette do you?”
“No. You ever see me around here before.
Everybody knows ‘Ways and Means,’
that’s the name my momma ga’me.”
“If your name is ‘Ways and Means’
why you asking me for money?”
He could hear the sarcasm in my voice.
He started to back away,
and as if he were in the pulpit said:
“Anyone who imagines all fruit ripens with the grape
knows nothing of the strawberry,
and the shade of a toothpick
beats the hot, boiling sun.”