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.