a portal to the arts from southeast Texas and beyond

Home     Poetry     Photography     Short Stories     Visual Art     Video & Music     Letters to the Editor     Book Shelf     2008 Publication Calendar     Site Map      
The Houston Literary Review
Spring 2006 Poetry Pages

In this issue we present the narrative realism of Bill Brocato.
He favors the prose styles of Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and Raymond Carver.

 
The Last Thing I Remember
 
...is lying face down
on a concrete slab,
11 pm Christmas Eve.
 
I could hear
St Michael's choir
and felt alcohol sick.
 
my pal, Jose Sena
drives up in
Amado Penas' blazing
green pickup truck.
 
I climb in and
we head down
Canyon Road,
peering out
at small houses’ filled
with Christmas lights.
 
I puke on the
inside of Amando's
pickup door,
pitch myself out
and struggle
to get up off
the frozen street.
 
We pull up front
of Evangelos,
crawl into
Santa Fe’s best
whore-infested dive.
 
Tossin’ tequila,
nasty shit,
we humble shepherds
worshipping neon
and the dark.
 
Later, I
follow the stairs
down. shoot pool
take a couple of bucks,
challenge some others,
go piss, count tossed
nickels in a
cracked urinal
and zip.
 
Tall blond,
pale legs,
scheming thighs
leans over our table.
 
I smell Sodom and Gomorrah.
 
Not long after, maybe
two-three games,
she gets horny,
so I take her in the back
we ease off a toot
chase a few shots
with a Corona,
she grabs my goy
cock.
 
I wrestle her
down onto my
swollen lap,
my face pressed
against her perfumed
thin neck.
 
All I can think is
watermelon pussy,
a black muslim drake.
 
We make it up
the stairs
out across the bar.
I wave at Nick,
the bartender.
 
I push her out
in front onto
the street
we turn left
off San Fransisco
down Galisteo,
near the News
and Fall.
 
Bill Brocato

Making the Rent
 
We’d been in Santa Fe
about three months.
My roomate Vince
pissed me off
so I spent evenings
duckin' him.
 
I liked hanging
at Evangelos' bar,
tough dive
near the Plaza.
 
Vince was scared to
go in there. Henry Miller,
Charles "Chuck" Bukowski
might come in.
 
I like the bar,
its neon lights
and drunks hiding
from the sun.
 
I grab a seat
at the bar and
look into a
nicotine-glazed mirror

so I can watch
the front door,
keep an eye on money
changing hands.
 
This old broad
is staring into
her whiskey – so
I think: my private
place
in her private place.
 
She’ll feel a whole
lot better, but
she ain’t getting it
for free.
 
“Scorpio. The scorpion,”
she cries. “I am a vengeful
Venetian.”

I grab her
rough hands and smile
into cracked brown eyes.

Later
touching
pale wrinkled
thighs,

I taste wire-meshed
pussy,
smell lost opium
pipes and
souls buried in
Indian blankets.
 
It's morning,
she's snoring
I roll over, take a piss
off the side of the bed.

I grab a smoke
place her $20
inside my Marlboro pack.

 I walk home,
dawn lifted on my back
dogs laughin'
as I pass.
 
Vince waits at the door
he's pissed, all-tired-out.
I walk in, flip
my cigarette pack
onto the kitchen table.

He smiles, licks
his lips and pours
a whiskey.
 
Bill Brocato
Recipe for a Peanut Butter Sandwich
 
Walk into the
Safeway grocery.
 
Choose between:
a quart of milk,
a bag of popcorn
a six-pack of Budweiser
a jar of peanut butter.
 
Instead of:
a block of swiss cheese
a whole fryer chicken
a bag of Fritos
and French onion dip.
 
Walk the aisles.
Stand in line
pull out a $10
four $1s and
get back 23 cents
change.
 
Watch some punk
grab an old lady's,
bag.

Turn the corner at
Alameda and
Paseo de Peralta.
 
Fuck you forgot cigarettes.
Shit, this always happens.
 
Open your busted front door
set the sacks on the floor.
Pull out a chair.
Stare at a butt-filled ashtray.
 
Damn, no papers to roll.
Toss the ashtray into
the kitchen sink.
Grab the ashes, let
them lie on your
tongue until you spit.
 
Remember the guy
with the BMW,
the shit he gave you
at the garage.
 
Cry about your future.
Kick the table
slap your face
make a fist and pound
your navel,
your temples
your lips,
 
until there’s blood.
 
Wash your face.
Walk into the
bedroom
no light.
 
Just walk over to
your dresser and pull
out your .38 caliber.
 
Knock on your neighbor’s
door,
ask his wife to
step back a bit.
 
Place the gun inside
their lighted hall and
blow his brains out.
Close the door.
Listen to the widow
scream.

Walk back across
the yard to your
darkened house.
 
Step on a blood-red
cockroach
pull close your
busted screen door.
 
Sit back down
make yourself
a peanut butter
sandwich
and wait.
 
Bill Brocato