Before Off Duty No More

Another Lyft meet and greet gets going
in the back room of the coffee bar
where she goes
to record peripatetic truths.

She would join the group
if she had a license.
If she had a license,
she would lose her identity for good.

She’s a good passenger.
Hasn't puked in the backseat
in decades. One night

several Junes ago,
she hails a taxi
outside Bubby’s
(when it was still in DUMBO).

The cabbie asks her
about her evening.
She tells him about walking across
the Brooklyn Bridge

with a crowd
of fellow Poets
House advocates.

It's the year Terrance Hayes reads
Vladimir Mayakovsky’s “Brooklyn Bridge”
under the western tower:

“I clamber,
in pride,
upon Brooklyn Bridge.
As a foolish painter
plunges his eye,
sharp and loving,
into a museum madonna,”

Every straight woman,
gay man, there
swoons. She is not immune.
It's her first time

laying eyes
on such a beautiful genius.
Even her future favorite living poet
stirs a tad with jealousy.

The taxi driver wants
to chat. He tells her
he likes her dress—
a black and rose floral number

with an old-fashioned bodice
and full skirt.
She's even wearing heels.

He sounds enchanted
by her enchantment
with living poets who know how
to summon the spirit of Walt Whitman.

Everything rises up a notch.
He senses her levitated state,
asks her to have a drink with him
as he stops the cab in front of her hotel.

He can be off duty for her.
He repeats he loves her dress.
It's been a long time
since she's heard these lines.

Still, she knows these are lines.
The medallion number lights up
the way they used to.

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