she's a threadhead


I am drinking 
I am drinking yellow flowers 
in underground sunlight 
and you can see that I am a sensitive man 
and I notice that the bartender is a sensitive man 
so I tell him the beer he draws 
is half fart and half horse piss 
and all wonderful yellow flowers 
But the bartender is not quite 
so sensitive as I supposed he was 
the way he looks at me now 
and does not appreciate my exquisite analogy 
Over in one corner two guys 
are quietly making love 
in the brief prelude to infinity 
Opposite them a peculiar fight 
enables the drinkers to lay aside 
their comic books and watch with interest 
while I watch with interest 
a wiry little man slugs another guy 
then tracks him bleeding into the toliet 
and slugs him to the floor again 
with ugly red flowers on the tile 
three minutes later he roosters over 
to the table where his drunk friend sits 
with another friend and slugs both 
of em ass-over-electric-kettle 
so I have to walk around 
on my way for a piss 
Now I am a sensitive man 
so I say to him mildly as hell 
“You shouldn’ta knocked over that good beer 
with them beautiful flowers in it” 
So he says “Come on” 
So I Come On 
like a rabbit with weak kidneys I guess 
like a yellow streak charging 
on flower power I suppose 
& knock the shit outa him & sit on him 
(he is just a little guy) 
and say reprovingly 
“Violence will get you nowhere this time chum 
Now you take me 
I am a sensitive man 
and would you believe I write poems?” 
But I could see the doubt in his upside down face 
in fact in all the faces 
“What kind of poems?” 
“Flower poems” 
“So tell us a poem” 
I got off the little guy but reluctantly 
for he was comfortable 
and told them this poem 
They crowded around me with tears 
in their eyes and wrung my hands feelingly 
for my pockets for 
it was a heart-warming moment for literature 
and moved bt the demonstrable effect 
of great Art and the brotherhood of people I remarked 
“-the poem oughta be worth some beer” 
It was a mistake in terminology 
for silence came 
and it was brought home to me in the tavern 
that poems will not realy buy beer or flowers 
or a goddam thing 
and I was sad 
for I am a sensitive man

At The Quinte Hotel – Al Purdy (1962)


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