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Short stories

LETTER TO MY THIRD EX

     Sitting in this flop with a picture of you, a chicken pot pie, gallon of Gallo and little else; watching cracks on the wall; hoarse cough nextdoor, the oldfart damn near dead from WWI wounds, dead wives, Bugler and even cheaper wine than I drink; upstairs the nineteen year old Krishna freak without a dime and lacking a brain, chanting muffled through the floor, which is my ceiling, plaster praying to be left alone and let fall and goddamn skidroad god letting the ceiling/floor have its way through slow pain, I love you, but understand why I left.

     It’s hot here. One jammed window and it looks out five feet onto the brick of a sooty warehouse. Tattered oilcloth shade. Stink of gas now tinted with heating potpie. Steamheat permanently high. Landlady same.

     She offers me an extra blanket whenever I pass her shadowy desk in the lobby. She once had a wino freeze to death, she says, and is terrified of death and all its concomitant responsibilities. Fusty creature, sticky booze on her lips.

     No, I have not fucked her yet. Nor anything else. Still jack off to your picture, or sometimes simply jingle the change in my pocket.

     Here the ceiling is high and obscure. Lamp by my creaky bed the only light. Forty watts of consolation. Still, some previous pervert managed to get way up and scrawl with lipstick or blood or beetshit a poem concerning the necessity of leaving your jane to go to war when your country has gotten into hot water. Sonofabitch even rhymes: war/whore, jane/pain, water/ ought to.

     Soon the pot pie will be hot. I plan to eat it with a plastic fork. I am leaving you the silverware. I think it was yours anyway. All the rest is yours, too, and this letter. Send along another picture. I left because there was no longer any poetry to be found.    

Willie Smith

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