Virgil hervey





dead man's shoes

My mother wanted me
to take his clothes.
Funny, he seemed bigger,
but everything fit perfectly
except the pants
and the shoes,
which were a half-size
too large.

It is not lost
on me, the fact
that I am wearing
my father's socks,
talking to Mom
on the phone to Florida,
as the realization
reaches the light of day:
the son-of-a-bitch
must have been crazy.

All my life,
I was guided
by the hand
of a lunatic.
His perception
that he had failed
in his quest
for success
then translated
into the driving
of me.
And for what,
the vicarious pleasure
of sitting around the pool
and bragging
to the almost dead?

Amy says I should
stop writing this shit
and make some money.
Perhaps she's right...

Fortunately for my kids,
I never gave them
much guidance.
They're out in Seattle,
as far from here
as they can get
and still be in this country.

One day
my son drove off
in a beat up old Toyota
I'd bought him,
wearing an old pair
of maroon canvas
Converse All Stars
I won't be needing anymore.

First in his class

I'm sitting here
staring at my star field
simulator screen saver
and I find myself
into deep space.
Looking for the mars lander
I suppose...
Power has been diverted
from my shields, Scotti,
and I'm vulnerable
to whatever piece
of space shit
drifts into my sector
this day.

Bertilotti is dead.
The irrepressible,
Ernest J. Type-A
no longer paces
the face of this planet.
One more guy
I'm better off than...
The news came early
from a law school crony.
I hadn't seen Ernie
since his wedding
in Newport
almost thirty years ago,
but his presence
was always felt.
A cabby in Manhattan
sees my briefcase
and drops his name;
there's a piece in the Law Journal
about this wacky guy
at Dewey, Ballantine;
the get-togethers
he would never show up for,
everyone standing around,
drinks in hand,
wondering if he'd show
and telling
the inevitable stories.

I check my email.
"Glad to see
you're still alive,"
reads the subject line.
"What is going on?"
I wonder.
It's from a poet friend.
She listens to my tape
in traffic,
she tells me,
as she drives her son
to the hospital
for brain surgery
after brain surgery.
I think of the cassette cover,
the picture of my bare ass.

A client calls,
an elegant old lady
who knew my father.
She's in a homeless shelter,
wants to borrow a few bucks
I don't have.
"If your father were alive,
he'd write me a check
for five grand
without blinking an eye,"
she tells me.
I doubt it,
but I hold my tongue.

It's raining here in Gotham.
A slow morning drizzle
has become an afternoon deluge.
Bertilotti would have laughed.
"You dumb fuck,"
he would have said.
And he'd have been right.
He was always right.

her father's daughter

I was over at the old place
yesterday, got a chance
to look around.
The cat watched
from atop the sofa
as I tried to cross
the living room
without tripping
over old boxes
and piles of papers,
and other junk,
garage sale cast-offs
and curb-side trash,
hauled back here
and left,
where first dropped,
to remain untouched again
for years.

Upstairs, the beds
are so piled with trash
I couldn't figure
where she sleeps.
But our old king-size
had a place left
just wide enough
for a body,
and there was a depression there
that reminded me
of the old beds
in her parents house
in Maine.
Then it occurred to me,
how old Gillie
always had a half-dozen junkers
rusting in the yard
behind the house;
how whenever I wanted
to get rid of an old car
I had no more use for,
I'd take it up there
and leave it;
how my mother-in-law
was always trying to get him
to clean up the place
and when he'd finally
get rid of one
it wouldn't be long
before he haul in another.

I've stopped telling her,
"Just throw out one thing
each day,
one room
at a time."
It's gotten worse
in the year
since Matt moved out
to live with his sister.
There's no where
to walk.
On my way out
I noticed
there's a vacuum cleaner
laying by the door
as if abandoned
in desperation.