I’m drinking water in a café in one of those neighborhoods
no one used to live in unless they had to,
but now people in sneakers and narrow jeans
keep walking by, all of them under 30,
carrying paperbacks, the kind that cost 14.95,
and I realize that much of this water could’ve come
from the stream near my house in the Catskills,

which I left at 6:00 this morning to be a suspect
questioned by a policeman in a true-crime
episode for cable TV. We improvised
our dialog, so the producer could save on writers.
The last time I improvised, I was a gentleman
in a café, flirting with the lady customers,
one of whom called me “this beautiful man,”

but she was drunk. Another drunk customer
had her hands all over me and said I was the father
she never had. We weren’t supposed to argue
with customers. When I defended myself from the cop’s
accusations I felt, oddly, guilty, even though
I wasn’t the person the story was about—I didn’t
even know where in the U.S. it took place,

so I could use the right accent. I decided it was the Bronx
section of Kansas, and the director didn’t make me do it
again. My jeans are narrow too, since I was playing
a farmer. I’m waiting till it’s time for an audition
to portray a sadistic brute in someone’s film.
Then I’ll go back to catch up on sleep, in my house
where Brooklyn water begins its journey.


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