the coffee can

we were students together then

he was a big fella & we got on well

same kind of humour seeing the world

not taking anything too seriously

one time out in the day for drinking

we got asked to do a paid survey in the street

asking how many times we ate out

breakfast lunch dinner snacks in the week

I only had a couple being broke as

where he had most meals out

breakfast Chinese Indian Mexican

couple of years later we met sometimes still

got for a long coffee talk on student days

our lives our women finding work lives

he told me he’d been diagnosed bowel cancer

was due for treatment soon but let’s meet again eh?

six months after that we met again

he’d had surgery then some chemo

but the worst he said as he sipped on tea

they got me in this hospital for coffee enemas

I went in slept the night they woke me in the morning

putting this can of coffee there on the side

length of tubing the whole works

I got dressed went out for a cigarette

kept on walking & walking thinking

had my life come to this?

found a café ordered a full breakfast

& now my friend it is time to say goodbye

no tears no anger no fuss just lets enjoy what’s left

you some kind?

there at the thriftshop

she got lots of nervous energy going

that or flying high speedball state

& its eleven in the morning

either way I’m shy of too much contact

but too late she’s checked me out

you some kinda Cherokee?

& I want to retaliate

it’s fucking Navajo bitch

she’s misread the braided hair

turquoise & silver

instead I smile wide as the plains


just some white boy ethnic stuff

& that’s enough for her

she’s already moved on

like in the motorcycle swapmeet ariz.

who let the fucking Indian in?

you did honky

you did


walking the streets

downtown Oakland

new huaraches

flopping around the toes

thinking of cacti flowering

turquoise in silver inlays

feeling the heat of the sun

through straw hat

wishing for the high desert

sniffing the permanent stink of piss

the hot sidewalk reeking of blood

as the guy stumbles along

falling toward me

in wanting something

worn & twisted by forgotten wars

& always the booze


I say

palm raised in peace

& he laughs

in complete delight

smile from ear to ear

I got me an Indian saying how

& I was gone by

another day

another mistaken identity


the temp is somewhere

in the hot high 90’s

& I’m dressed for comfort

soft shoes, shorts

some T with a slogan

& the strange straw cowboy hat

off to score motorcycle parts

in the high desert swap meet

all around me bikers in black


boots, jeans, flannel shirts

black leather vests sweat

& a quiet voice says

who let the Indian in?

& it takes a second

for this to click

oh, they mean me

taking in my easy attire

dressed for the heat

with the long hair plait

dropping down my back

& why the hell not?

if I chose to dress today

out of their tribe

I’ll take that with a smile

a man has to represent


in this world