This woman I know
Let’s call her “Gina Gioventú”
Well I met her when she was on the street
Or at least the sidewalk in front of The Poor Historian,
Some friends of mine found her a place to stay,
But she preferred to live outside,
Because at that time, it was strange for a person’s
Behavior to be recorded on film,
And Gina was certain that her sisters
Had conspired with Bill Gates to place
Candid-cameras in any place she ever had to live in,
That was inside.
And so she slept on one of the big chairs,
And I had to wake her up:
“Gina, you know you can’t sleep here.”
She’d read my Tarot
With any deck of playing cards:
“You are on a search for self-mastery.”
She read me my poems in a low contralto
She told me I was full of wonder.
I was 18 and learning how to drink coffee while working overnight making mochas and proofing bagels and mixing chocolate powder with hot water,
And giving frat boys 75 cents change in their paws
Which I made them hold over the tip jar
Until they begged for their extra cream cheese.
“It’s fucking four in the morning. I just mopped the floor and you bros turned it into fucking Woodstock 2000 with your fucking Cincinnati Timberlands, you fucks. Drink your fucking steamers and trip out the front door and crack your teeth, all of you, please.”
The smell of steel tables, the smell of pine in the bottles of cleaner,
The too-easy slaughter of horse-flies with triggered tap water and rag-slaps.
“Gina, wake up.”
“Gina, come beat me at chess.”
“Gina, do you want the rest of the vanilla hazelnut? I am about to dump it out.”
Her name was Gina Gioventú and we ate bagels and drank vanilla hazelnut every morning for four years. And that was her name, Gina Gioventú.