What’s Your Pleasure? by Joshua Plack

Hot meal, hot shower, or a safe bed?
Ain’t got none but offering one. Been
kickin’ that round close to twenty years now.
Unhook my bowtie, loosen the monkey suit,
waiter hands me a five for bussin’. Was
a sophomore when I was a senior ain’t that
a kick? Bartender throws me a ten and we
got a Monty Millions air now how ‘bout it?
Hit the corner shop, cold slice, a coke,
and some smokes. $7.45. Try to hustle
a kid at 9-ball, scratch, $5.45. Swipe
some TP, wash my pits in the john,
a French bath as they say.
Hop the Septa to the all-night laundromat,
no doors, January midnight so cold
it’d freeze oil, dryer’s cough steam,
bathroom locked, old Korean lady
watches me change, sees it all.
Wash the monkey suit, no soap, pull
some chairs close to the dryer, permanent
press, try to sleep, back hurts, damned
chairs, quarters, permanent press, damned
chairs, cop on a stroll, move along, quarters,
permanent press, try to sleep, damned chairs.
70 cents and the dawn.
Now I take showers that last for days
and bleed the whole county dry, scolding
hot water braises me medium-well. I pull
blankets over my face and sink into
the mattress, deep down into the box spring
where it loves me. Part of me is still out
there asking that question, twenty years on
only just narrowed it down to two.
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