Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

economics lesson

by John Grochalski

leon got drunk in the corner of the bar
where he sat after serving pints all day
to republicans and racists

he was often with a broken arm
or a black eye
from getting beaten on or thrown off the bus

he said to me, tonight is our tete-e-tete
and then he had me put gershwin on the jukebox
to drown out the mets game

leon took out a piece of paper and started drawing
some complex economic design upon it

layers upon layers of circles
with numbers and figures scrawled in drunken chicken scratch

i didn’t know what to make of it
except that i’d never understand economics
beyond my frayed wallet

i just wanted to drink beer and listen to gershwin
forget the job that i’d come from
and had to go back to the next day

i wanted the mets to win
but they were down again
and some of the guys in the joint
were starting to get restless about it

the seat next to leon was the only one
available in that joint

because they’d all been through this economics lesson before

some of them men had threatened to kill leon
if he ever brought up economics again

so he stayed mute on the subject with them
and just served them their beer
as they yelled about hispanics and blacks

but i was still new to the joint and still docile
and wasn’t of their rowdy ilk

so they threw me to the wolf with his scratch pad and pen
his laptop and pint of bud

and they laughed at me as i sat there
the lone soul in barroom economics 101

with professor leon
getting more and more soused by the minute

scrawling like he was mozart on an alcoholic kick

the gershwin reaching a crescendo of horns and piano

lines and line of economic nonsense
that held no matter for me
being splattered upon the paper in mad pollock dabbles of ink

me thinking that because of leon
i’d been nursing the same beer for over an hour

telling myself that if he kept it up
that i was going home to drink

this bar be damned for once and for all

which made the best economic sense for me
that strange and fiscal night.

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