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POETRY A VERY MINOR POET HAS A CONVERSATION WITH A FRIEND ABOUT INSECURITIES, FEARS, AND MORALITY There are two men at a table, at a bar at midnight, outside where the humidity can wash over them. Both of them with their pretentious beards feel they are better than any of the other patrons in the little enclave they claim space in. They drink, and they will become drunk, but for now they just blink at the unbelievable world around them. The moon whispers its secrets from behind wisps of clouds. Somebody is getting arrested down the street at another bar. Acquaintances slip in and out like thieves, like friends, like old lovers with their heartbreaks and fondnesses. The friends, they drink, and they both know they will become drunk, and that nothing needs be said, but something needs be said. They talk of nothing. Then, before they get openmouthed dumb with drink they turn to their insecurities, fears and morality. I’m finally doing the thing I should be doing, I think, said the very minor poet to his friend. But really, what difference does it make in the end? -The end, as in the eventual end? Yes, said the very minor poet and pulled on his beard. -I think it matters, said the friend and they ordered another round and sat looking at the women wearing hardly anything, looking at the thieves, the friends, the past lovers and the few women in the bar that they pined after, desired, but not enough to try to construct solid conversations with. They watched the moon cloud herself with her secrets. They watched the cops patrol the street, watched them take away drunken fighters. Maybe you’re right, said the very minor poet, and nothing more had to be said. EATING WELL I can say that I’m eating well at least, that every morning I eat the coffee and drink the paper. Although, sometimes, I feel as if I’m stealing food from the dead, wasting time playing cards with the hangman. But every morning I am born, I am born alone and ripped away from the scaffolding of dreams, ripped from the orange salt-lick fires of a vagina, happy, and am faced with the emptiness of a pillow, or I’m ripped from guttural animal singing answers that I could never glean for myself. But I can’t understand them, it’s like listening in a language you can’t place, French or German maybe, or slurred Latin sung in deep registers. But I can at least say that I’m eating well, eating the coffee and drinking the paper and trying to remember the spelling of guillotine to fill in a line in the crosswords. THE LAKE I tried to tell the waves. I bent down and tried to whisper it to them, because they were small little tongues of things. I tried to tell them they did not need to know the secrets of the shores. I bent down and repeated it to them, so close my lips almost touched them, my face was cooled by them. It was better for them to stay where they were, I said. But they, they wouldn’t listen. Andy Gambell ANDY GAMBELL, a resident of San Antonio, grew up in the Texas Hill Country. He attended the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he studied under poet Wendy Barker. He has been published in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and The San Antonio Express News among other places. Naomi Shihab Nye 10/22/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21