“It is never too late to repent.” – Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist.
We are grateful to this sly crone, chain-smoker, never alone
who fills the table with things she has borrowed at their owner’s
invitation. Her lost boys have no vocation, but they are chained
to the leg of her table, trained by the Mistress of the nicked Spoon.
She releases her demons into a bottle of Cabernet sauvignon.
She doesn’t really indulge, just a sip. Her faults are common ones,
bread and nicotine. She has worked hard her entire life, learning
the art of deception. Her husband left her with many lives to feed.
When Cabaret plays at the old Sun & Surf she rattles her bracelets
to the tune of $, $, $. She sings us out of the movie door. We are groggy
from the dark play. The bountiful table has everything anyone could desire.
Motel napkins, she has stashed, pilfered paper towels. She implores
us to snatch a loaf of bread to be used for stuffing under a sign marked
“Needy.” It is there for the taking, the Acme is closed for the holiday.
She chuckles. She claims that Donald Trump is just like JFK.
Like a drunken pair from the Looking Glass, we have landed
into some strange bee hive. The hive is buzzing and slick
with excess. Her chain-gang drones murmur abiding devotion. But this
is the Jersey Shore and the tide is rising. Our Governor, as ever,
offers us no prayer. Besides, we are Jersey and we are savvy. The coolers
we have brought have been emptied by her guzzlers and revelers.
We clutch the tops of them like surfboards, leave her nest steeped
with tainted honey, make our escape. The bite of feral air as we shake
our heads, does us both good. We tenderly nurse a turkey leg, a feast
from her leavings, use the coolers as makeshift chairs. We survive her grubby
talents. Surely, her gang of dear boys, giddy with her instructions will summon
us back? My purse will fill with rain, we have nothing they want now. I add salt,
long for next year. I mourn a bit over losing them– Cuz Fagin never instructed
how to measure gain versus loss. Still I wonder what they had already, couldn’t use
and no longer wanted. How they were trained to sneak, to sabotage, to squander.
Laurie Byro has had 7 collections of poetry published, most recently Hopeless Romance (Cholla Needles Arts) and D'eux & Other Sorrows (Cowboy Buddha Press). Two collections had work that received a New Jersey Poetry Prize. Her poetry has received 60 Interboard Competition honors including 13 First Place awards as judged. By 2020, she was nominated for a dozen Pushcart Prizes and she facilitates Circle of Voices in NJ Libraries for the last 23 years.