TAVERNA MODERNA

I was lying on the floor
of the Taverna Moderna
at the corner of Washington & Vermont.
L.A. Thursday afternoon.
I'd been there for five minutes or
two hours, I wasn't sure, but no one
had bothered to pick me up
or call the cops.  Refried beans
were burning on the stove.
I could almost taste the puddle
of tequila evaporating three inches
from my right eye.  Everywhere
were shoes: beige sandals,
soiled hightops and boots.  Lolling
tongues and dirty soles.
At a nearby table, a sparkly gold
slip-on with a tiny bow rubbed
against a pair of leather loafers.

At this point, I wish that I could say
I thought something profound,
that I transcended my stupor
and peeled back layer upon layer
from the Cosmic Onion, but you know
it's only those anthologized poems
that make big claims.  This one
has to settle for casual, lower-
case truth.  I thought of vomiting.
I wished I spoke Spanish.
I wished I had the heart to pull
myself up and look into the face,
rather than at the shoddy feet,
of another lousy human being.

          David Starkey
TAR
DAVID STARKEY teaches in the writing program at the University of California-Santa
Barbara, and is the author of a textbook, Poetry Writing: Theme and Variations (NTC, 1999), as well as several books of poems from small presses, most recently Fear of Everything, winner of Palanquin Press's Spring 2000 chapbook contest.  He has published more than 250 poems in
literary magazines over the past thirteen years, including work in recent or forthcoming issues of GSU Review, Ixion, Open City, Paumanok Review, The Pedestal, Rattle, Red Rock Review, Salt River Review, Snakeskin, and Stirring.