Dog bowls and ash trays

The last time I stayed to eat
over at Bog’s
he grabbed a butt-loaded cup
he’d been using as an ashtray
and washed it out
to serve me coffee with
he’s a one-fork, one knife
one spoon kinda guy
but he likes the company
when occasionally I hang out awhile
and sit on the floor like tonight
in his house without furniture
and shoot the shit
our voices echoing around the place
mine wailing consternation
over women or the cops or whatever
his cackling pirate-like, a laugh
and the shuffle of his feet and tires
as he maneuvers in his wheelchair
with bum legs and hands full of dinner
which tonight comes to me in his dog’s food bowl
for lack of any other dinnerware
“Dog bowls and ashtrays!” I thunder in my Tom Waits voice
”Everything’s comin’ up dog bowls and ashtrays
and sweet Lorelei wants a ride
and it won’t cost you nuthin’
just hear the siren call and
she’ll take you straight into the rocks.”
Bog doesn’t know about Lorelei.
You’re German and you don’t know about Lorelei? I ask
and he says oh yeah, the chick on the Rhein
and I say bingo!

So I turned a pretty woman down
and when she asked me
why she’d never seen me
arm-n-arm with a woman around town
I answered that women
never give me their phone numbers
until they need something from me
like a ride
like tonight’s note
delicately written in the “dearest” terms
on the back of a Hershey’s wrapper
and left on my driver’s seat.
In all fairness
I will readily admit that
I too have an ulterior motive:
I want to be alone both in my car on the way
and in my luxury hotel room in Phoenix
and besides that, sweet Lorelei,
you don’t know it
but we’ve dated before
your name was different
but your siren-song
it gives me shivers
so familiar
so frighteningly familiar..

So it’s dog bowls
and ashtrays for now
hardly very glamorous
hardly me at all
but the company is good
and things can only get better.

© Rick McKinney 1999

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