telephone

Ribbie made it as a poet from the
beginning
while I was doing whatever I was
doing
to get up the rent and the
drink.
Ribbie liked to phone.
“Taranaski,” he’d say, “you’ve
stopped writing letters.   remember
my idea?   we were to write letters
back and forth, each keep copies,
then we were going to make a book.
remember?”
“yes, Ribbie, I remember.”
“what happened then, Taranaski?   lose
your nerve?   did you realize I was
outdoing you?”
“yeah, Ribbie, I had no chance…”
“I thought so!   ha!”
then he’d laugh a most pleasurable
laugh.
“you’re the best, Ribbie…”
“we could start up again… we could
still make a book…”
“no, Ribbie, please…”
“ah ha!   afraid I might destroy you, eh?”

“yes, something like that.”
“all right, baby, I’ll let you off the
hook!   goodbye!”
“thanks, Ribbie, goodbye…”

then I’d pick up the phone, dial, get a
response, a hello, and I’d say:
“listen, you whore, I’m sick of your dancing
up close to guys, rubbing up against their
cocks!   you’re supposed to be my woman!
you dry-fuck to music, you cheap slut!”

sometimes you just get rid of everybody
and begin with what’s left,
like
Taranaski.