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Whiskey Sour City

Last night, I joined a gaggle of amazing poets to read our poems from the Windsor Review’s recently published Whiskey Sour City anthology. My poem is entitled “crazy over ninety,” and it deals with the time I lived downstairs from a man who was abusing his wife and how I had to call the police more than once because I feared for her safety. This took place in the midst of the “dog days” of a torrid summer – hence the reference to “over ninety”.

Anyhoo, I was sitting there, waiting for the event to begin, when one of the other poets (whom I had never met) sat down next to me and said how much she enjoyed reading my poem in the anthology. When I thanked her, she added, “By the way, I’m a cop. Twenty-eight years on the force.” That’s quite a coincidence, but when she added, “And I work in the Domestic Violence Unit,” I nearly fell off my chair! What are the odds, I ask ya, what are the odds?!

Gotta love the synchronicity! And for those of you who don’t subscribe to the Review, my poem is posted below.

crazy over ninety

heat and humidity hang over the city
with the weight of a dead body

an impotent fan has been pushing stifling air
around my bedroom all night
its sorry efforts disguised by a rhythmic loudmouth clatter

exhaustion finally kicks in
and i feel myself slipping away
drifting off
when the couple above me
start shouting and throwing things

he shouts, she pleads
he throws punches, she cries

and me?
i call the cops

the dispatcher knows my voice
hesitates a second before asking
does it sound serious this time?

i say
do you want me to call back
when i hear a body hit the floor?

no, i didn’t mean… she’s embarrassed
no, of course not
i’ll send a unit

yeah, why don’t you just do that
and i slam down the receiver


damn damn damn damn damn

my hand’s still stuck to the phone
i should call her back
tell her i’m not a rude person
not usually
but i haven’t slept much
in three days
and those idiots upstairs…

and she’d say
oh i know honey
(she’d call me something nice like that –
honey, baby, sweetie)
i know, she’d say
this heat’s getting to all of us
it’s just i hate sending my boys
(that’s what she’d call the officers – her boys)
i hate sending my boys on domestic calls
they’re the worst
you never know if the guy’s crazy or on drugs
or if he has a gun

i don’t think you need to worry about that,
i’d tell her
he’s never had a gun before

uh-huh, she’d say
and can you swear he doesn’t have one now?

and she’d tell me her name is sharon
(or karen, or janet, or pat)
and that she’s been working dispatch for eighteen years

and i’d tell her i just moved to the city
and can’t afford an air conditioner
and how a fan doesn’t make one damn bit of difference
when you’re a rotisserie chicken roasting on a spit

and she’d laugh
tell me to hang in there
the heat can’t last forever

and i’d tell her about the other day, when i was coming home
on the bus
and there was a car ahead of us
and a truck ahead of him
and how we all stopped for a red light
at seminole and walker
and the guy in the car got out
ran ahead to the guy in the truck
and started punching him in the face
right through the open window

now that’s not something you see every day, i’d tell her

and she’d make a little sound
a dry chuckle and mutter
huh, you’d be surprised

then she’d say it’s been nice talking to me
but she has to get back to work
and i’d say, yeah, thanks for listening
and she’d say sure and then listen baby,
you go get yourself a nice big bowl of ice,
set it in front of that fan of yours,
and see if that don’t cool things off a bit
and i’d say, thanks for the tip
and she’d say the cruiser should be there in a few minutes
and call back whenever you need to
and you take care of yourself now sweetie
and remember, it’s a crazy city over ninety

and we’d hang up

i should call her back
my hand’s still plastered to the phone

i lay my damp forehead on the back of my hand
close my eyes
and wait for the siren

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