it was a dirty trick you played,
old friend, folding your tent so
quietly and slipping away into the 
sunset midway through the dance,
leaving us with the fiddler's bill.
we could not believe that death
had dimmed those smiling eyes 
or stilled that keen quick 
in one brief moment--
it left us feeling lean
as hemingway's prose,
empty a yesterday's gum wrapper.
we sat for days afterward, 
staring into our beers, teary-eyed,
press m'man, lisa, neecie, larry the postman, 
andrea, mickey, tom, 
glancing at the door out of habit,
expecting you to lope in with a grin
wide as texas sky, comb in hand,
a laughing story on your lips.
i remembered you and i
driving the canal banks on saturdays, 
always a washtub of icy beer and a
quart of Stoly, how you plunged 
your thermometer into brown bales and
read their value by smell.
i remembered how i clung to
the top of your loading boom, 
drunk in the desert night,
the bales swinging back and forth in 
the dizzy space beneath me,
the little four-cylinder engine roaring.
i remembered the first time
I saw you in the country boy
i thought you might be
glen ford's twin brother,
i wouldn't have been at all surprised.
i remembered how we watched football
at the girls' place and how you
yearned to screw denise,
and how it was i who wound up
between those fine little thighs
in the middle of the
living room floor--her lesbian sis 
and her lover watching 
from a doorway nearby,
how sis finally came in after
we finished and flashed one of her 
big tits at me with a grin.
i'm two years old now than you were
the day you turned over in the 
el centro hospital bed
and died in 1982. 
you would be 69 years old now.
save a place at the bar and
put one in the well for me, buddy,
i'm on my way.
it's just taking a little longer
than i ever believed possible,
but then i was never known for
good judgment anyway.