Baloney on White Bread


Someone passes out sandwiches

wrapped in waxed paper

and I take one.


Thirty of us are crowded into the small room

with a high ceiling, yellowed walls,

no chairs and one drinking fountain.


There are two large, stale pieces of white bread

with a slice of baloney and smears of margarine.


It's morning and Ive spent the night in the Van Nuys jail.

A stocky Mexican speaks to another in Spanish,

his brown elbow touching my belly.

We all wait for a hearing,

then well be sent to county jail.


I take a bite.


I haven't heard from my father

since I talked to him last night;

Bruce was bailed out immediately.


The margarine has a grainy texture.


We were stoned in the police car,

Bruce in front with one cop,

I in back with another.

One cop stuck our hash pipe in his mouth.

It was my pipe, long and thin with a small bowl.

It had Disney characters on it.

Bruce argued left-wing politics

with his hands cuffed behind his back.


The white bread, mixed with saliva,

flattens and sticks to the roof of my mouth.


We were moved here this morning

in a bus with barred windows, our legs chained together.

Ordinary people could be seen

walking on the sidewalk.


I bend for water.




2001 Mark Giffin