I imagine snapping the brim
of a non-existent fedora after
I find the Benny Goodman
tape somewhere it shouldn’t be.
Only then do I shut my eyes.
After a moment, I check the
father’s pocket watch and
hope the shirt-tail is properly
tucked. I do this much after
the fact but nevermind that.
As I prowl Sunset amidst a sea
of Caddie fins and crackly neon,
the Benny Goodman stops and
reality socks me in the snooker
hard with a Louisville Slugger.
Here in The City of Night, I’m
chasing noir dreams that deep
down I know are pure figments.
I long for palm trees and
all I get are dead shrubs;
I yearn for Ava Gardner or
Betty Bacall – or some grand
dame with killer eyebrows,
a quick wit and a thirst for
the good life and all I see
is Sally who looks like
lunchmeat on a Thursday;
I want to dine at the Brown Derby
and all I can afford is the cardboard
they peddle at 3 Brothers in Venice;
I need a double-breasted Zoot Suit yet
all I can muster are premium Dickies
straight outta the Sears Wishbook;
I want spit-shined wingtips,
black and white, and ready to
kill roaches and I get these
busted up Chuck Taylors;
I salivate for single-barrel scotch
and I all get is this bathtub gin
with a kruddy Pabst Blue Ribbon chaser.
I look around for George Raft on his
way to the commissary and all
I see are
and I shake my head as to where
we’re all going and wonder what
happened to the glamorous life?
I’ll never know cuz I never lived it.