sylvia ann manning | mary lou, moriarty

Mary Lou, Moriarty

Route 66 east of Albuquerque
worth a turnback if you’ve missed
the exit, find yourself in Thoreau:

24-hour café with regulars resembling
nobody but themselves if not Cassady
and Kerouac grown old

like they’d broken down here
one starry dynamic night never to
get back on the road

turned to icons now in a 24/7 heaven
with bottomless refill: good coffee,
decent eggs, grits.

Maybe the waitress is Mary Lou?
She who was Cassady’s wife, really
Carolyn. Except she isn’t.

Mary Lou is black and blue.
Turn her face to the corner
till she comes to.
Except she isn’t.

Like my friend who is just herself
clearly says, “Be sure to see what’s
on the wall in the women’s room.”

Not that ditty or graffiti but photocopied
message, “Love isn’t supposed to hurt
you; love doesn’t abuse.” Mary Lou.

Twenty or more of those little strips
you can rip off to have a number you
can call, already taken. One left.

You wonder how many there’ve been,
how many women besides these nearly
fifty ripped off a small piece of hope

There in that one spot, while the waitress
poured hot coffee, served grits, Route 66
in Moriarty, New Mexico, near Thoreau.

No way to know.

0 Replies to “sylvia ann manning | mary lou, moriarty”

  1. Leigh,

    Thank you. I only tried once or twice to get this poem in print, never successfully until now, and it’s good to know someone likes it.

    Did you know that there’s a new novel by Kerouac expected to be published soon, written in his home French patois. It’s called Sur le Chemin, which is On the Road in French, yes, but it’s not a translation but something else entirely.

    Thanks again. Stay well.


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