Last Light-Lick Creek by Nadine Hergenrider
Waiting at the Luncheon Counter for My Tuna Melt
This is – remember –
this is not the way your life will turn
out as you listen to, as you overhear two old
men talk about Walter Benyen. One knew him well
the other was his nephew. He died
(didn’t he?) they ask each other,
reaching for a bit of dry toast, a sip of bitter
coffee with that same abandoned air you saw
in a man walking through North Park
holding an empty leash, and in the pages
of the hardbound book you saw fluttering
after each passing car, staying where it landed
in the crosswalk down the street. But you wonder
why a book gets tossed, if a dog is ever found.
You thought to stop to read the title, to search
for the dog, but you didn’t. And you don’t
ask now which one is Joe when you stand
at the jukebox, studying the note taped
to the glass: Don’t play G7 if Joe is here.
It brings him bad memories.
In trying to pick out which of Nadine’s postcards to pair with my poem (which was first published by Barnwood International Poetry Review), I had the selection narrowed down to six choices.(Her work is that beckoning . . !)
Some of her artwork features an area not too far from where I live (and not too far from where her folks now live),but a long way from where she lives now. But fairly close to that luncheon counter. The overheard conversation in my poem was real (but the name was changed). (aside to Nadine: one of the men talking in the poem is related to your father.)
The man with the empty leash and the abandoned book were also real. All these things appeared in the same week. Then I flew down to LA to visit a friend, with all these things tossing around inside me. When we walked into a corner bar to step out of the harsh sunlight for a bit of time, the note on the jukebox delivered the poem to me.
If you have the time, Nadine has posted some comments about her dog in the post which includes her photo of Cintae. Here.