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And all of them will tell you about it

by DS Maolalai


The world is full of shipping clerks

who have read

the Harvard Classics

- Charles Bukowski


When I walk to the bus stop in the morning

I pass two minor poets on my way.

One of them is sweeping the road. One

is walking to a job helping old ladies

and emptying bins at a train station. I guess both of them

see plenty of life. I get on my bus

and sit down in the empty swallow of early morning

accompanied by the dull pencil stare of a dirty shoed folk guitarist

and a painter who has left his wife at home

wiping the kitchen table clear of watercolour flecks.

On my lunchbreak I pay another writer for a sandwich and a beer.

This one had a poem in Granta onceā€”it was in the same issue

as a recently discovered piece by Ray Carver.

He talks about it when he's drunk sometimes.

I drink the beer there and go to the park to eat the sandwich

and read a book I picked up second hand

at the weekend. The wind grabs at the pages and knocks them around.

Whenever I call

a large company it's a minor poet that answers the phone. One cleans it up

when I knock a coke over at the cinema. One sells wine from a little shop

on my corner.

I guess all of them see plenty of life. But I guess they

probably see more dirt.