Bowery Blues

to “The Lady,” R.I.P.
O, it’s sick green walls
   with a painted comet
and checkerboard tiles
   inlaid with vomit—
oh, if God made a fool
   you can bet I’m it,
old lady on the skids!
   O, it’s “Cover your cough!”
      on a cardboard sign,
   and it’s “def no credit”—
      ah, what a line
   for a biddy whose blood
      is ninety per wine,
   old lady on the skids!
O, its “The Big Boy Shot”,
   that’s the morning double:
for thirty-five cents
   it’ll cure my trouble.
I sit down next
   to a tramp with a stubble—
old lady on the skids!
   O, it’s the Salvation Army
      when I need a bed,
   or I just take my shoes
      and put ‘em under my head
   and lie in a doorway
      and wish I was dead—
   old lady on the skids!
O, I’ll die someday
   of this rotgut booze,
but what do I care?
   I got nothing to loose.
I loose all I have
   when I loose my blues!
Old lady on the skids!

E. M. Schorb has published several collections of poetry, including Time and Fevers: New and Selected Poems (AuthorsHouse, 2004), which was chosen as a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award winner; A Fable & Other Prose Poems (2002), Murderer's Day (1998), winner of the Verna Emery Poetry Prize; 50 Poems (1987); and The Poor Boy and Other Poems (1975); and a chapbook, Like the Fall of Rome and Other Humanitarian Disasters (1980). He is also the author of two novels: Paradise Square, which won the International eBook Award Foundation's Frankfurt eBook Award for "Best Fiction work originally published in eBook form," and Scenario for Scorsese (both Denlinger's Publishers, 2000). His poems and prose have appeared in Best American Fantasy 2007, as well as The American Scholar, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Chattahoochee Review, Chelsea, The Literary Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, The Texas Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review, among other journals. His honors include Fellowships in Literature from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the North Carolina Arts Council, and grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Carnegie Fund for Authors, and Robert Rauschenberg & Change, Inc. (for illustrations in The Poor Boy). He lives in Mooresville, North Carolina.