Monday Poem

“Gas stations at night can sometimes be weird places.”
…………………………………………………. —Ruchira Paul, 5/7/22

Gas Stations Can Sometimes Be Weird at Night: Circa 1958

While in HS I pumped gas at a station in town
owned by an amiable, but besotted old Italian guy
who sat in his desk-chair next to the register,
feet crossed upon a case of oil,
supine as the chair would allow,
head back, gazing at the ceiling’s tin tiles
through smoke of intermittent puffs
from the butt of a Chesterfield
daintily held between finger and thumb,
elbow on armrest, forearm plumb as a column,
smoke circling his bald head,
ears tuned to radio: opera
cranked up

Louie, lead tenor, belting bourbon-tinged arias
at full volume between drags,
warbling Puccini for all he was worth,
swathed in perfumes of grease and oil
in splendor on the stage of the Met,
gazing in glory at a full house
while I pumped gas, checked oil,
and ran squeegees across windshields
waiting for the night’s curtain to drop
to a chorus of imagined bravos
bellowed from the street
amongst deafening applause

Yes, gas stations at night
can be weird sometimes—
and beautiful

Me? I liked rock and roll
and sang with Elvis
in my car

Louie and I?
We got along just fine

Jim Culleny