Chicano Poet

Monday, January 24, 2005

An Overview Of Henry Waiting For
A Flight To New York, 1938

Henry’s sitting in
Rick’s Café Americain,
drinking the hard stuff,

waiting for that
letter of transit
that will get him

from this god-forsaken Sahara
to the Sahara of New York City,
giraffe-necked punks in the subway,

the apartment falling apart
and taking Delmore with it.
The poetry in calf-length skirts,

the dames look out
from second-story windows
down where Henry

should be walking,
instead of sitting at this table
half a world away.

The smoke from his cigar
drifting up to the ceiling fan
as close as he gets to an airplane propeller.

The sands swirl outside
on main street,
pantomimes of the Sphinx roar

and rise on the horizon.
Henry’s elbow slides
along the table,

the piano player launches
into New York, New York.
Henry leans against

the back of his chair
which has become a sanddune---
the sandgrains are a mile apart.

Henry walks between them,
they’re as tall
as the buildings in Manhattan.

The elevator boy asks what floor
and Henry tells him
with alcohol on his breath.

He puts his head
down on the table
and wakes up in the grasp of Casablanca.

He looks over at the bar
and Rick is talking
to some dame.

She smiles and her dress
ripples with magic,
Henry sees the floor undulate.

It reaches him
and he can see
that joy and pain endure.

A bubble rises
to the surface of his drink,
it breaks

and the air inside of it
goes as far up
as it can go.

Henry pays his tab
and walks out in the street
that feels as if it was made of fur.

"The heat curls up
in the sun at night…"
Henry thought,

"and then it
paces like a cat
all day long."

He absentmindedly gripped his shirt
about mid-chest nervously as he
contemplated unknown thoughts.


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