But none of those were quite like Anita

The taxi-man
who hangs out on Liberty,
smokes outside his cab
with his fedora folded over to one side.

He reads the paper
with December swirling around him,
and waves to old so and sos
by the fish market.

He’s ferried boxers
to their big-time fights
and mayors and other politicians.

But none of those were
quite like Anita.

Old Jack here,
frankly doesn’t give a damn
about washed-up, has-beens who
frequently stiff him for the fare.

He was an infantry soldier,
owned his own business
even won some awards and accolades.
But he doesn’t think about his former life,
now ten years into retirement.

Alls he thinks about now is Anita.
She, with her short, dark hair,
sat in his cab for 35 minutes
and asked him all kinds of questions.

She asked him why he looked like
he’d seen a thing or two.
She asked him if he liked jazz.
If he liked driving a taxi.

She asked him if he’d ever
kissed a girl in the rain.
If he’d ever been to another country.

She then asked him about the war,
but got real quiet when she did.
He thought that was mighty cute.

She was about his age,
though you couldn’t tell on account of
her hair dye.

Anyways, she got outta the cab,
that cold December day,
grabbed Jack by the shoulder
from the back seat
and whispered something in his ear.

She wrote her number down,
but he lost the slip of paper
before he built up the courage to ask her out.

Now, all Jack does is drive real slow
when he’s on Liberty –
trying to find a girl who will ask him
some more questions.


You move close to me and softly tell me to
I move away at first because I’m quiet, but again you tell me to
Not now, I think, not in this place. Somewhere warm maybe but not here.
Not this run-down, downtown, dive bar.
The amber color in my glass and it’s emptiness and their presence tell me it’s not safe.
But then suddenly, and without warning,
I speak.
It comes out far too loud.
Everyone quiets down and listens.
I’m monologuing about it all.
All the fakeness.
All you phonies, and I point to them while I say it.
They look taken aback but they’re listening.
I seem to have their full attention.
I say it just like I practiced in my room.
With all the gumption and gusto that my bedroom walls only knew before.
I really let them have it.
You could hear a pin drop at the end of it all and I’m standing there in front, with my breath all heavy and I’m panting.
But then something happens.
They cheer for me.
Two of the ones closest put me up on their shoulders and parade me around like some sort of hero. They’re all chanting my name.
Now we are out in the open and the street crowd joins in.
I don’t know what to make of it. I’m sure I’m looking stunned when I turn around and see you still in the bar; grinning from ear to ear like you knew it all along. You turn and make your way through the throngs so I can’t see you anymore. I’ll have to thank you later, I think, you midnight marauder. Too bad I never caught your name.