No one cares, J.J., what you wrote, what you said
about chains and birth and freedom
Joe Hill says, then claws
two french fries into the catsup,
holds them to his mouth,
chews fast at first, then slow.
Jean Jacques rather likes the idea
of straws -- a plastic straw -- and a cup
of diet cola.
I feel so proud, but so
unloved, Jean Jacques says.
They bask in the cold fast-food lighting.
Jean Jacques doesn’t know guillotines.
Neither does Joe Hill, although
he knows firing squads, clubs,
some lynchings, quite.
Any word comes from anybody’s mouth
has a spit of truth in it says Joe Hill. But
when a crowd of company goons
comes at you bats wooshing
you don’t have time to split true
innocently from the bottom
of his cup. Then: a ridiculous and shame-
full belch. But for the midnight crew
and some drive-ups outside, they are alone.
Red chairs, yellow tables. How
can color be so bright, yet so unclean?
I wrote my life, says Jean Jacques. I
wrote my father, my mother, my mistress,
my dead children – and I was a great man.
I wrote my life says Joe Hill in hope,
in tenements and strikes, railway cars
and songs remembered and forgotten.
I wrote my song in blood,
and I never tried to be a great man.
Joe and Jacques could not hear the dog outside
in the distance: Woof. Silence. Then again twice:
Woof, Woof. Silence again, for the night.