copyright © 2002 Todd Ristau

Ex-Prize Fighter (originally called "Lou")

Last stool in the darkest corner of the far end of the bar
Eating french fries from the corner
That someone else bought him

The young kids call him a waste
But the old guys who drink here during the day
They all keep him in booze
Keep him in smokes
Keep him eating and going home when it gets dark

I asked Ed about him once--
Ed being the guy who owns this place--
Ed said he was the greatest guy you would ever want to know
When he was young, Ed says, Lou was like a runaway train
Hands like anvils
The Greatest

I look at Lou, and he doesn't seem to know where he is
But a look out the window reassures him
He returns to his fries

Oh, yeah, Ed continues talking, Lou could hit
He was a prize fighter
Like all the kids in this neighborhood then
Back then you did your fighting for money
In the ring
Not like today
Today, today this neighborhood is all drugs
And blacks and homeless
Used to be a good Italian neighborhood
With a good group of guys to watch the street

I knew it was the wrong thing to say
But the word was out before I could stop it

No, Jesus, just people. Like my father.
Like Lou.

My mouth won't stop

People, just people
Ed shuts me off and goes back to his drinking
He orders another large glass of Dickel for Lou
His fourth or maybe fifth tonight

Lou isn't fighting much these days
But what he fights he still fights bravely
He fights embarrassing himself
Fights embarrassing others for him
Never wets his pants in public
Never falls asleep at the bar
Never speaks to anyone he doesn't know
About anything that matters to him.

He wouldn't tell me his children haven't visited in fifteen years
Won't let me see a tear
No matter how the booze tries to loosen them up
And Lou won't let you tell a lie about him in his presence
If you do, he just gets up and leaves

Among the things Lou still has
Is a fatal disorder he can't pronounce
But everone at the bar knows what it does

That poor bastard, Ed says
That poor bastard

Lou doesn't hear it so much as feels it
And he gets up to leave the bar
At 520 East Sixth street
Between A and B

Besides, its getting dark and there are no more fries
And he has a trip to take tomorrow
Out west

He's going to see his oldest daugher
And the grandchildren he only knows from pictures
They never came East
The City is no place for children, she says

Lou agrees
So he's taking his savings and hes taking a train
And he isn't going to make it
Its already too late

Another from 1989 or 90.

[Todd Ristau's website] [Ristau Entertainment Ltd.]

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