Grade A: The Man in the Pickup

Written in Albuquerque (Mesa SE), July 2000:  addressed to J—.  From my second-storey porch I could get something of a bird’s-eye view of what was going on below, and here I tried to apply the same view to myself.  Sari Krosinsky questions whether changing the “you” in the final lines is okay.  I think my habit of indenting quotes takes care of that, on the page anyway.  Published in my books The Closed Shrine and Wings of the Gray Moon.

The Man in the Pickup


Sick & tired of sorting out

who’s a friend & who’s that different thing,

Christ, tired of sorting out

who’s a stranger & who isn’t,

I watched a stranger I automatically liked

the looks of cross the courtyard below,

knock on a door, not stand there long,

go & sit in his pickup.

There we were, me on my porchdeck

him in his truck, waiting for women.

I wanted to walk downstairs & say to him

“Are you in love with someone too,

  someone who’s made up her mind

  she doesn’t want anyone that way?

  I’ve got shelves of peaceful books

  upstairs, & I could peacefully burn them,

  could peacefully do murder,

  a best friend as easy as anyone,

  if this grief would end its ridicule,

  or this knowledge.  You?

  Have you found out you’re a zero?

  The one who isn’t home,

  have you found out she’s a zero?

  You add those numbers together

  & you’ve got what you began with.

  Our trouble is, we began.”

But I wound up not going thru with it

because there you came,

only ten minutes late tonight,

in a wonderful white dress.