Pseudo-Artists and Gigolos

by Wayne F. Burke

I lived with Steinman and Arturo
in a house in Somerville. Steinman
was a poet and Arturo an artist
but neither made much art or
poetry but did make plenty of
girls–girls with names like
“Bubbles” and “Sunflower”–
in and out the door.
I slept on a mattress on the floor
and did not make any girls because
the girls were not interested in me:
I got drunk and high and woke in the
morning by myself and hung over
and pulled my unwashed janitor’s
uniform on and caught the number 10
bus into the city, stuffed like a toe in
a sock, another foot in the race, sweating
and feeling bad, ready to puke as I pushed
a vacuum cleaner, set up chairs, trashed…
I climbed stairs to the roof of the hotel to
read or sleep. I was the only white guy until
Frank got hired: I liked the black guys better.
Frank had dead eyes, a broad plane of a face
and he hated “niggers.” One of the blacks,
Cooley, hated “honkies,” especially me. He was
happy as shit the day he said that the boss wanted
to see me. I knew what was coming, so did Cooley.
Being fired was no big deal: hell, I was an artist not a


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