Thursday, May 18, 2023



“Wait,” said Milford to Lucas Z. Billingsworth.

“What?” said the little man.

“Can you stop?”

“But I am not finished yet. I feel I still have two dozen or more stanzas waiting to emerge. Listen, my friend!”

And the little man continued to recite his poem, apparently, or allegedly, created extemporaneously in the moment:
In how many alleys have I awoken,
uncomfortably in a pool of pee?
And how many harsh dawns have broken
over my head like a fiery sea?

How many thousands of gallons
of vomit have I disgorged
into gutters and sinks and johns
in this so-called life I have forged?

For, yes, I too was once a lad
who dreamed of riding the prairie,
herding them dogies just like my dad,
and missing a gal called Mary…

“All right,” said Milford, “look, Lucas is it?”

“Yes, excellent memory, Gilford!”

“My name is Milford.”

“I meant to say that. Milford.”

“Look, Lucas, if I give you a dollar will you stop reciting your poem and leave us alone?”

“A dollar, huh?”

“Yes, I’ll give you a dollar, okay?”

“Don’t be such a cheapskate, Gilford,” said Bubbles. “Give the man a fiver.”

“All right,” said Milford, and he took out his wallet. “I’ll give you a five, okay, Lucas?”

“I’d liked it better if you said a ten.”

“Oh, all right, fine, look here, I’ll give you a ten. But you have to leave us alone.”

“So you’ll give me a ten-spot and all’s I got to do is leave you alone?”



Milford had taken a ten-dollar bill out of his wallet, but he held onto it.

“First you have to promise to leave us alone.”

“What do you mean by leave you alone?”

“I mean you have to stop reciting your poem and go sit or stand somewhere else.”

“Like where?”

“I don’t care. Somewhere.”

“I don’t have to leave the bar, do I?”

“No, you can stay in here, but just not near us.”

“Like, say, at least six feet away?”

“Yes, great, make it at least six feet.”

“Okay. Give me that ten-spot.”

Milford handed him the bill and the man held it in both hands.

“Long time since I had one of these bad boys in my hands,” said Lucas Z. Billingsworth. “Real long time. You must be rich, right?”

“I am certainly not rich.”

“If you weren’t rich you wouldn’t be giving some random schnorrer a sawbuck just to get him out of your hair.”

“Well, I’m not rich.”

“I’ll wager you’ve got a trust fund, right?”

“Ha,” said Bubbles.

“Okay,” said Milford. How did he know? “Not that it’s any of your business, but, yes, I have a very modest family income –”

“I knew it,” said the little man.

“Swell, you knew it, now take that ten dollars and go to some other part of the bar and spend it in good health.”

“I have not been in good health in at least thirty years.”

“Then spend it in bad health, I don’t care.”

“As long as I go away, right?”


“You really know how to hurt a guy, Wilbert.”


“Milford, whatever. You don’t have to be so nasty, Milford.”

“I don’t mean to be nasty.”

“You’re not succeeding very well.”

“Look, I just gave you ten dollars, and now you’re calling me nasty?”

“I just call it the way I see it, pal.”

“Well, I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for being a rich asshole?”

“Now wait a minute.”

“Oh, so now you’re getting touchy.”

“But you just called me an asshole. Sorry, Bubbles, for the language.”

“Don’t sweat it, Milford,” said Bubbles.

“I’ll bet Bubbles thinks you’re acting like a rich asshole too,” said Lucas.

Bubbles said nothing.

“All right, look, I gave you the ten.” said Milford. “Can you please just leave us alone now?

“Sure, I’ll leave you alone. But first I want to finish the poem I was extemporaneously creating before you so rudely interrupted me.”

“Oh my God,” said Milford.

“Your God won’t help you now,” said Lucas. He folded up the ten-dollar bill and put it away inside his worn old gabardine coat. “Buy me another brandy, I’ll finish my poem, and then I will go.”

Milford sighed.

“How much longer is your poem going to be?”

“It’s an extemporaneous poem. I will not know when it ends until it ends.”

“Oh, Christ,” said Bubbles. “Louie!”

“Yeah, Bubbles.”

The bartender was right there.

“Give us another round of brandies, including one for Lucas here.”

“Wow, thanks, Bubbles,” said Lucas. “You’re a real lady.”

“So that’s five shots, right?” said Louie.

“Yeah, don’t forget the two sweethearts there,” said Bubbles, waving her cigarette at Addison and Polly, deep in their own little world.

“Wait,” said Milford. “Just make it four brandies, please. I’ll just have another ginger ale.”

“Give him a goddam brandy,” said Bubbles. “And this time it’s on my tab.”

“Right away, Bubbles,” said Louie the bartender, and he went to get the Christian Brothers bottle.

Bubbles turned to Lucas.

“Now go ahead and say your poem, Lucas.”

“Sure thing, Bubbles.”

And the little man cleared his throat, licked his lips once with his small pallid tongue, and began again to recite, to create his poetry. 

And where once there had been nothing, now there was something.

{Kindly go here to read the unexpurgated banned-in-Florida “adult comix” version in A Flophouse Is Not a Home, profusely illustrated by the illustrious rhoda penmarq…}

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