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W.T. Pfefferle

Manny

1.

We have several routes to choose from,
my dog and I.
But we invariably wander up Clinton,
past Kings,
right up to Colorado.

It's a straight shoot, after all.

My dog wanders back and forth on his leash.
I walk straight.
As a crow flies.

Old men populate this part of town now.
They hack and cough on
front porches,
swill bad looking Texas beer out of cans.

Manny has about four teeth and
white hair and a houndstooth coat
from the fifties.

My dog barks at him no matter what.
I wave a silent hello. Manny said
"Holla, vanecio," once to me. I looked it up
in a big Spanish yellow book.

Neighbor.

One late night,
my dog sniffs the ground in front of Manny's house.
When the screen suddenly opens we hulk
off into shadows.

Manny hobbles to the side of the porch,
unzips his pants
and then pees into the front yard,
his white hair lit up from behind,
the blue of a tv screen,
the hum of an air conditioner.


Later that night I wash dishes in the sink,
wait for a telephone call from an ex-wife.
Out the window I hear sirens and mariachi.
I smoke cigarettes when I can bum them from pretty girls,
I believe in death and Texas and angels from on high.
I believe to my soul that if I could find it,
love would conquer all.

2.

Manny wanders past my house on a cool spring morning,
carrying two large brown bags.
Clothes, ribbons, rags.
I hear his daughter back at the house screaming
something at him.

Manny is old. He pauses at the end of my block,
setting the bags down.
Seeing me, he cocks his right hand up to his forehead.

'Senor,' is what I think to myself, but he says,
"Good riddance," clear as a bell.
He laughs, his four teeth brown like his coat.



Meet the Neighborhood

Little child,
my name is April,
I have a dog named Pinky,
we live in happy squalor,
my seven brothers and I.

What's that man saying,
over there by the burning car.
Let me in the El Dubo Restaurant,
for some water to ease the pain
of my living coil.

Little child,
Pinky is peeing on our
new porch. There is a flea
on that dog that will
come in and self-reproduce
until we will have to
just burn the place down.

Park the car outside
in the street,
and you might as well just
leave the keys in it.
This town will eat us both alive.

We're mixing gasoline and pesticide
in a 50/50 combo. Light the back yard
on fire and pretend it's a cookout.

Little child,
my name is April.
I will be seven next year,
and I will go to a new school.
The people who lived here
before you
were nice and Chinese.

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