Slump-shouldered and baggy-assed,

squinting through bifocals at apples and oranges

in the produce section of a tourist grocery,

plucked of executive mien, awkward now

out of habitat, so much shorter

than when he stood behind podiums

at workshops in five-star ballrooms

exhorting us to up the ante,

hair no longer sculpted by spray,

no bright bow tie or big gold watch,

sharp redbird profile fallen to wagging

buzzard neck and downturned mouth


First name “Bob”

Can’t remember last


From him I learned we’re born

with only so much heart for horseshit:

no room in our troubled lives

for his kind of aggravation

When finally I tap his shoulder

to say “Nice to see you again

after all these years,”

the only grief he’s left to give me

is a has-been’s smile that scowls,

“I’ll tell what I know if you’ll

tell me what you know

when we meet again in hell”