John Dempsey

Practice Makes Perfect - Poem by John Dempsey

When I got on the E, uptown, W4th, I saw a crowd
on both ends of the car, but the middle was empty I’ve
always disliked crowds and so john in the middle it was I
made my way past the straphangers, pole jockeys and semen fiends that can be found on most any subway
this side
of the city.

“I got 2 bags of crack,
and I got a bottle,
and I got a pack a cigarettes! So what! ”

The reason the middle of the car was empty.

A white guy. He looked younger than 40. He was dressed nicely; you could tell that his clothes cost money, nothing off-the-rack, handmade business, all of it, but in need of a wash. Also jewelry, a gold watch, gold bracelet, rings, a chain. The briefcase next to him, looked like
real soft
leather. All in all, he had lost his grip. Slipped. Opened a door, went down a hall, and got lost in the maze. I could tell. There was a fifth of Gordon’s, a few sips away from empty,
in his hand. He
pointed at me first.

“I’m you! ”

Then he pointed at an Asian woman.

“And I’m you! ”

Then he pointed at a young black kid.

“And I’m you! ”

Pointing up and down the train, at every one of the hangers, jockeys and fiends, “I’m you! And I’m you! And I’m you! ”

Most everyone got off at 14th, transferred to the A, not me though, I’m a recorder.

At 23rd some more people got on, new faces, fuel to the fire,

“And I’m you! And I’m you! I’m every
of you! ”

Then 34th Street, Penn Station, police on the platform, they
rush into the car, handcuffs ready. I
was looking to catch the 3: 27, and so I couldn’t stick around for the finale. I just heard it happening,

“But I’m you!
I’m you!
Why would you arrest yourself? ”

And then I was home.

I chewed up 2 hits of percaset, then I snorted another one, then I drank enough beer to give me the courage to stand in front of the full-length mirror in my bedroom. I slowly brought up my index finger,
opened my mouth, and whispered,

“I’m you.”

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Poem Submitted: Monday, February 12, 2007

Poem Edited: Thursday, January 13, 2011

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