Almost Summer on the B61 to Red Hook
You know summer’s nearly
here when you climb
on the bus and the blasting
air conditioner gives you
instant goose bumps. You find
a seat. Three Puerto Rican
high school angels own
the back row, one more
beautiful and streetier, sexier
than the other, in their torn
cut-offs and clingy tees. Old
enough to be instantly dismissed
you try not to stare. It’s impossible.
One’s tapping her cell phone,
fingernails perfectly shaped
and indigo blue, clicking beats
to sounds sliding down her spine.
She stares at endless texts, leans
back, laughs. She reaches it over.
The one staring at a mirror,
moving it up, down, slanting it
to discover the perfect angle
is busy brushing, sculpting,
fine tuning her lethal eye brows
as if life depended on it, glances
over, nods and lets a sly smile
linger across those luscious lips.
If you were thirty years younger,
the third is the one you’d want
most. Sort of sleepy looking,
slightly tousled, she stares out
the window, sees everything
or nothing at all, pays no mind
to what the other two are doing.
Deeper eyes, darker hair, she gets
up, walks to the door and when
she steps into the street
you can tell by her slow easy
rhythm she’s starting to realize
that guys believe she holds
all the keys to the kingdom
and is beginning to imagine
what she will do with them.
First published in San Pedro River Review
The day after Thanksgiving and you’re scrolling
down Facebook. You stop at a photo of a woman
doing a Zoom reading next week and remember
meeting her through a Village Voice Personal Ad,
on a street corner in Park Slope: easy conversation,
hunched over a bowl of Ramen for lunch, walking
in a light rain to a bookstore, buying a new copy
of The Things They Carried. You looked in her eyes,
said you’d call though you doubted you ever would.
Ten years later, you saw her again, two rows over
at a Neko Case show in Prospect Park, looked twice
to be certain, then kept your eyes fixed center stage
the rest of the night. Walking out, she came up to you,
asked if you remembered her. You nodded, said yes
with a half-smile, looked down. She moved away,
saying nothing more. Your eyes followed her. If
you called now, would she be happy to hear from you,
subway over, bring leftovers, stay the weekend?
First published in Naugatuck River Review
A Little Music
Abby, your technician
for today’s treatment, hums
a gospel song as she sticks
the needles in the crook
of your elbow, attaches you,
the tubes, to the dialysis
machine and sets it
for three and a half hours
when the floor nurse walks by.
She squeezes her shoulder, offers
her condolences, starts whispering
about her son’s memorial day.
How long has it been, she asks,
and Abby says she’s just trying
to make it through the shift
and not think too much.
Hopefully, she can reach
the cemetery before it closes,
stop at the florist in time to buy
fresh flowers. You lie there
wondering if you should say
something, try to express
how sorry you feel for her
or whether this was something
she wouldn’t want you
to know, something she wishes
you never overheard. You roll
the front of your wool hat
over your eyes, fit headphones
over your ears and hope
to drop off to sleep. You wonder
what happened to her son
and you leaf through newspaper
headlines: shot by a white cop
in a store front robbery,
a gang member’s stray bullet
from the back seat of a car,
a roof top sniper shooting
a raw recruit in an unwinnable
war, an infant smothered
in his sleep. Always, too young
to die. When you open
your eyes, Abby is punching
buttons on the computer
next to you checking blood
pressure, your water levels.
You press the pause button,
hear she is humming
the same song. She apologizes
for making too much noise
and waking you. She talks
about a few years ago when soft
jazz played through the speakers
until a few patients complained.
She points them out, names
names and you feel relieved,
knowing you would never
be on that list. You know,
she says, a little music
makes the day go faster,
smoother. You grab
your I Pod, nod and wave
for her to lean closer.
You lift the headphones
off your head, hand them to her.
Carefully, she nestles them
on the top of her new hairdo,
fits them over her ears. Press
the button. Monk’s Bemsha
Swings. She closes her eyes
and her head sways, gently,
like a flower with morning
mist lifting from her eyes.
First published in Pittsburgh Poetry Review
Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of NYC and managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 40 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, New Ohio Review, Book Of Matches, Crab Creek Review. His most recent book, What Kind Of Man with NYQ Books, was a finalist for the 2021 Paterson Poetry Prize and long listed for Jacar Press' Julie Suk Award.