In a dingy room in Holborn
a teenage forger dead.
stopped poetry in his head.
November 2003, 5:30 PM:
In Days Diner because of the cold.
Drinking coffee as fog
washes the windows.
The busboy sits alone in a booth
smoking a cigarette.
Curses come from the kitchen,
the waitress refills my cup,
puts down the check.
The busboy asks an old lady
if she's finished with her plate.
I notice his English accent
and think of Chatterton:
Not as Wordsworth's "Marvelous Boy,"
but dying with vomit, not iambs,
issuing from his mouth.
The waitress tells the cook
that each year there are
less family at the tables
because each year another
She wonders who'll die next.
The busboy blows rings of smoke.
The cook says, "The thing about death-
is that we all do it."
Then a couple comes in silently,
and I see skeletons embrace
and decide to leave my coffee
for a fresh cup in a different restaurant.
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