Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Memories of Old Scratch

I saw him once on the Lex express,
alone in a door seat, old, a fright,
dentures halfway out of his head,
swaying somnolent or drunk or dead
as the passing local station lights
flashed his specs with festive menace.

Twelve, I saw a Frankenstein
no one cared to recognize,
a secret no one would admit:
although he swung no ropes of spit
and was eminently civilized
in his gray wool overcoat and Times,

he rocked quite alone beneath
his mentholated cancer blurb,
the casual passengers all sardined
safely back from the grinning fiend,
no one the slightest bit disturbed
by those unspeakable acrylic teeth.

I was glad to get a seat,
too green to face the fact
in his Phantom of the Opera act,
until he snapped awake, stared back.
“Have a nice day,” he clacked,
got off at Fifty-ninth street.

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