by Swanson Tudor


A Saturday afternoon, all sun, no humidity

    where people dream of hiking

looking forward later

    to a little chilled wine, cold pasta salad

an afternoon for me to walk three short blocks

to sit beside Arthur at the bar

    and after a while he talked about his poetry

in the angry resigned way

    he talked we talked about disappointments collected

and held close to our spleen

a soccer game lingered on the television, not enough

    to distract me the tiny figures

running and stopping across the huge field.  I only know

    Galeano's little book of the past

with Montevideo, Sao Paulo; when they caroused all night

into the early morning hours

    the next day in the midst of hangovers spitting phlegm

on the muddy tracks of grass

    making those spectacular goals to keep them from going back

to the docks, factories and mines that always wait

Arthur was on a roll, champion

    of the simple stanza with heart

versus depraved witty sestina

    and the subtle class war of the writing

workshops; it called for me to add a little diplomacy

for argument's sake

    but I had skipped breakfast and was already

feeling the beer so I asked Arthur

    what he thought of the two women

sitting together at a back table

as he explained to me that one was a neighbor, who had

    never spoken to him in three years

I watched us through the bar mirror most of Arthur's face

    obscured by a bottle of something blue

our hour long story unfolding, without an ending of note


I would be the first to leave

    gathering up my cigarettes and lighter half standing waiting

for him to recognize my departure

    I glanced toward the back table before opening the door

onto a perfect afternoon.