Don W. in Manhattan

—eating the dust of 2001

Dining in Soho alone, a man
served by a girl with lip studs, nose ring,
and serpent tattoo uncoiling
from deep cleavage,
sees the new man of La Mancha,
in dim light across the room,
seated with his back to the street:

This new man of La Mancha
topples a pepper mill with his fork
gesturing to his wife, Sancha,
vowing he’ll avenge New York

Sancha smiles and re-sets the mill in place
among constellations of pepper stars
strewn across formica space

Between them supper’s done:
spent dinnerware, filaments of flaked filo
circling half a buttered bun,
remnants of dense moussaka,
and that pepper mill now standing like a dustbowl silo
near languid cubes in tepid water

Don Doble U, enemy of disorder,
sweeps a hand through this small universe
upending the pepper mill once more
and plows a thousand miniscule black galaxies
into his cupped palm
and dumps them on the floor

He takes his tined baton
between forefinger and thumb
and sets a cadence in the atmosphere
thumping on his different drum

Then Don (el hombre fútil),
maestro of mishap,
conducts the ice and water glass
into long-suffering Sancha’s lap


Jim Culleny; 2001

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