September 24, 2009

what we’ve been doing with ourselves

by Noah Uitermark

the three of us sat together,
at an old coffee house at
the edge of the highway and
rotted interstate ramps.

the place was a month away
from dark abandonment and the
long years of slow decay-
but we were there nevertheless,
2 stupid boys and a
girl. they

talked about
an old actor. i
drank black coffee.

the barista behind the
counter was shy, pale-
complexioned and cute

i wanted to walk
around as an object
in her eyes
for a little while,
see how that
might feel.

but she was reading the
newspaper, not far
away from a copy
of a famous Dickens

i’d heard too many jokes
about that one, i was
ignorant and couldn’t
bring myself to pick
up anything
that everyone else
had already heard
of and loved.

i drank more
black coffee,
turned my eyes across
the photographs and
portrait sketches
on the walls.

there was light jazz,
i remember that, and
the aimless traffic
at our backs.

there was the straggling
insistence of a few
loners, drifters, and
social miscreants.
they read too,
or wrote, or stared
dully at the

there were really few
places to be as
the city suffocated
each night by
the waning firelight
of the leaving

what i really
was to start
talking to them
about our crazy love
and how it had

but i got few
looks, a mention
of never getting called

and i let the subject
naturally turn from
the old actor to
even worse

well, it didn’t matter
i bled,
finished the last of
the coffee, crunching
the grounds
and i thought
maybe now i’ll
have something
to say to
that quiet
and pretty

she read the newspaper
as if it truly
enthralled her,
sitting on one leg
on a stool
and leaned over
like it contained
the story of the
rest of her

hers and the rest
of our lives were
always a
fickle thing,

so the sun went slowly down
as thoughts turned
to the bar.

the traffic thinned out
and headlights unevenly
came to pierce
the solemn evening

nothing changed, nothing
and the
ceiling fans
hummed along
when the time came
i gathered up a
few things,
left some change
at the bar,
and walked
out through
the door.

gray clouds covered
the sky,
a future cried out
and no one

i would fight some
coffee dreams while
the pretty girl
swept the floor
and closed down
all the lights.

my friends would
go somewhere else,
some chatty field

and you would not
answer your
cell phone,
resting instead on
a new boy’s


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