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  • Awake

    woke up at six a.m.
    to the sound of
    as she was climbing out of bed
    headed to the bathroom
    so I did

    reached over to the corner of the chest of drawers
    and slid the plasti-rubber appliance
    in my mouth
    and waited for her
    to return
    so I could go
    my mind was not awake
    but my bladder was

    Olivia the Shihtzu
    did not move
    stayed curled in the space between us
    her comforter and sheets
    flipped over her
    and as she opened the bedroom door
    I turned my covers off
    and headed out

    when I came back
    I laid there for a moment
    tried to nod back into sleep
    and finally said
    “I'm awake.”
    a moment later
    her reply
    “So am I.”

    reached up to turn the lamp on
    grabbed yesterday's sweats from the night table
    to toss them in the laundry basket
    while I put on my Saturday sweats
    gathered clothes from her,
    washcloths and hand towels and bath towels
    carried the laundry all the way down
    two flights to the basement
    fed the cats
    fed the dog
    started the life giving blood of coffee
    poured us each a glass of juice
    and took my pills

    she's at the computer
    reconciling numbers for our visit
    to the tax preparer
    at 3 o'clock today
    while I put frozen pancakes
    and frozen sausage
    in the microwave
    and crack two eggs
    into the T-Fal skillet
    on the stove

    almost perfect timing
    coffee is done
    pancake sandwiches are done
    I wrap them both in paper towels
    hand her one
    and head out to my recliner
    to sit back
    eat my breakfast
    sip coffee
    smoke a cigarette
    and read Bukowski

    Olivia jumps up
    cradles between my legs
    her chin resting on my hip
    content that my hand
    is absently stroking her head
    she cuddles down to sleep
    while I read

    and now I'm in the office
    the porch originally
    built as an open attachment to the house
    now sided and enclosed
    but always cold in winter
    always hot in summer
    typing away on a keyboard
    wondering if I even remember
    how to write anymore

    cheep – cheep – cheep
    outside the window
    sounds like a baby bird
    in the nest perched on the siren box
    on the corner of the porch
    the alarm in case a burglar
    comes in the house
    without the codes

    the girls are moving out tomorrow
    she wants me to change the codes
    eliminate their codes
    I often wonder
    if she knows
    she'll die alone.

    White yellow sunlight
    breaking from my right
    painting streaks and shadows
    on cars and houses and trees

    I wonder if Bukowski
    had mornings like this
    and if he had
    what would he say about them

    the dark espresso roast is slightly bitter
    mixes well with mint pipe tobacco
    rolled into a homemade cigarette
    and the aftertaste
    of pancake sausage fried egg sandwich

    Janet....Janet Hale
    that was her name
    never married her
    should have, maybe,
    when she woke me up
    it wasn't with harshness
    but that was so many years ago

    I think about her,
    remember her face
    her eyes, her voice
    the way we met
    the way we parted

    take another drag of my cigarette
    wonder what she's doing this morning
    wonder if she remembers
    wonder if she likes espresso roast
    and pancake sausage fried egg sandwiches
    and reads Bukowski
    or Shakespeare
    or Milton
    or the bible.

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