Across the street there's some old guys standing outside of Gino & Carlo,
they're smoking and wearing baseball caps like
cheap ass crowns. They're telling stories
and laughing at the joke of the world
like they were in on it the whole time.
And there's these other nice people out here drinking beer
at the sidewalk tables who seem to have made
a peace with things. Two ladies next to me,
about my age, talking and sharing a bottle of wine,
like everything wasn't falling apart around them,
like the air wasn't full of ash,
like evil wasn't winning.
Like it was a perfectly pleasant afternoon
beneath god's forgiving sun.
And I curse whatever vanity it is
that keeps me thinking the sufferings of myself
and everything upon the earth
are any of my goddamned business.
Somebody already bore that cross
and it didn't end well.
Or maybe it did, depending upon
what you believe,
but I can never quite let it go.
And now the ladies with the wine
are laughing until they cry
and I'm over here glowering at my plastic table,
sucking at my beer, wrestling
with the death of everything like some
asshole gladiator destined to lose,
while across the street those old guys in their hats
are lighting up another one and laughing like kings.
WILLIAM TAYLOR Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. To Break the Heart of the Sun is his latest collection of poetry.