Girl by featured artist Lora Mathis

      Sunday Afternoon at the Brown Jug

      We’re sitting at the bar and Janey’s crying in her drink,
      slobbering really, telling me a story I can’t
      understand, something about a man who
      loved her and is no longer here.

      On the TV above the bar there’s a docudrama
      about the Irish Mafia in New York

      while outside a woman with a ragged dog
      wanders the sidewalk calling a name
      with the voice of someone lost in a forest
      on a night without stars.

      “Pop! Right in the head!”
      A patron yells at the TV screen
      as a hapless informant meets his end.

      Outside there’s still three hours of daylight
      and no one knows what to do with them.


      I imagine the world, too,
      is in chains, beholden
      to ancient rules it never
      agreed to or understood.

      It grinds us down with ragged teeth
      but I think mostly without malice,
      like it once had other dreams.

      And at some point we are forced
      to stand shivering
      and naked before the things
      we’ve thrown away,

      all the beauty abandoned
      like something
      that could be replaced.

      And how do we plead?

      I scour the night
      for cut rate demons
      with which to bargain,
      but I’ve only trinkets,
      leftovers and common
      forgeries to my name,

      nothing I could exchange
      for another night
      beneath her eyes.

      The Small Things

      She says the small things aren’t enough,

      says all the precious moments
      are just baubles collecting dust,

      the poets just tattered scarecrows
      in abandoned fields
      splintered by the wind.

      We are of no use to one another,

      deformed by our own
      separate hells,

      staring across chasms,
      the bridges all in flames.


William Taylor Jr.

William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His books include Broken When We Got Here, An Age of Monsters and The Hunger Season. The Blood of a Tourist, a book of new poems, is forthcoming from Sunnyoutside Press. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recpient of the 2013 Acker Award.