Blackout by featured artist Jamila Clarke


      BEAUTIFUL UP HERE

      I pull up to the grocery store in my cab
      tired from the sensory-overload
      of driving all day through this manic
      and murderous maze of a city.
      No cab driver likes grocery runs
      because they are hardly ever going far
      people who take cabs to the grocery store
      are almost always poor
      and pissy because their ice cream
      is melting.

      I call the fare but he doesn’t answer
      and I get out and go grumbling
      into Fry’s.

      I almost bump into this HUGE young guy
      coming out
      as I holler:
      “TAXI FOR LARRY!”

      And he says,
      “That’s me, I’m Larry.”

      He is at least 6 foot 8
      400 pounds
      could easily smash me
      like a bug.
      He’s got a blind man’s cane
      and a little bag of groceries
      and he’s smiling.

      “Oh,” I say, “Pardon. Can I take
      that sack?”

      He gives it to me and I
      talk to him all the way to the cab
      to give him the way.

      “Watch the curb there.”

      When he is in the cab he tells me where
      he lives and it is a little farther
      than the usual 5 dollar grocery run.
      It is a nice sunny day and he has
      a blind man’s kind but twisted
      look on his round
      pale face as he sits in the back.

      “Nice day,” I say.

      “Yes.”

      He tells me the directions to his
      house in a very precise manner
      that I appreciate
      because many people are vague in their
      expression and directions
      it’s easy to get lost
      or take a stupid route.

      We go up a hill into the desert
      and the cactus are there and the ocotillo
      with their little orange flowers
      because it’s rained recently.

      “Damn,” I say, “It sure is beautiful
      up here.”

      I cringe after I say it
      thinking it uncouth to say that to a blind man
      who has never had the pleasure
      of gazing at this desert loveliness
      or the view of Tucson below
      or the birds flying
      in the morning.

      But he doesn’t take offense.
      He just says,
      “Yes, it sure is beautiful.”

      At his desert house he says,
      “There’s a palo verde tree there in front,
      do you see it?”

      “Yes.”

      “Park there.”

      He pays with a 20 dollar bill which he fishes
      carefully out of his wallet
      and which is folded in such a way
      to let him know it’s a 20
      and I give him change
      and he seems to trust me
      not to rip him off
      not to give him ones
      instead of fives.

      Then he gets out, thanks me, and feels
      his way to his front door
      with his cane and his little sack
      and finds the doorway
      which he barely fits through
      and then shuts the door
      behind him.

      I close my eyes
      for a second
      and it is quiet
      sitting there in my cab
      under the palo verde tree
      on top of the hill.

      Almost perfectly
      quiet.

 



Mather Schneider

Mather Schneider was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1970, and now lives in Tucson, Arizona, where he drives a cab for a living and writes. He is married to a beautiful Mexican woman, has no college degree and likes to eat prickly pear cactus. He has 3 full length books of poetry, DROUGHT RESISTANT STRAIN, HE TOOK A CAB, and THE SMALL HEARTS OF ANTS, all available on Amazon. He has a 4th book of poetry forthcoming and a book of stories looking for a publisher.