I’m standing off to the side of the counter
talking to the clerk at the market
when in walks the poet Thom Gunn.
As Gunn goes to the back of the store
I say to the clerk, “Do you know who that guy is
who just walked in?”
“Yeh,” he answers, “his name is Thom.
He comes in here all the time and buys cheap wine,
and tries to make conversation with me.
I don’t like him. In fact, I’d like to kick his fairy ass.”
“That ‘fairy’ is a famous poet,” I tell him,
“and in fact, he just won a grant for a shitload of money.”
“Then tell him to drink better wine,” the clerk says with a smirk.
“I’d like to kick his ass for the hell of it.”
Thom comes to the counter and puts down a loaf of bread
and a jug of Gallo wine. He smiles at both of us
and immediately I say, “Aren’t you the poet, Thom Gunn?”
“Yes, I am,” he responds somewhat embarrassed
and follows with, “I know I’ve seen you before.”
“I’ve been in the neighborhood a long time,” I tell him.
“I’m also a poet, and I’ve given readings around the Bay Area.”
“Yes, now I know,” he responds, and we both shake hands.
“See you again,” he says as he picks up his package
and walks out of the store.
Immediately the clerk responds, “I don’t like that guy.
I hope he never comes back. . .”
(First appeared in Cannon’s Mouth, 2013)
Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in Serving House Journal, Unscooped Bagel, Dead King,
Ink In Thirds and Tigershark.