Shit! Out of milk again. The bodega
downstairs is no good, forget it, sells only beer
chips, canned beans, pickled pimento, and smokes
their milk’s always expired, the guy just shrugs
when I ask him how comebrown toothed smile, nods
uh-uh, sure-sure his go-home dumb-ass mumble.

I’ve done that twice I won’t again mumble
cocksucker, how hard is it for bodegas
to sell unexpired milk? Boozers nod
and wink inside and on the street with beers
men in Cuban hats, bottle caps, and shrugs
and wide sweeps of hey! arms wide, fat smokes

what do they talk about all day? Light smokes
at nine a.m. or maybe ten whenever the mumbler
stumbles in to open shop. They smoke, they shrug
hello or turn away, say “fucking car,” bodega
of eternal comment, sponsored by Bud beer
come afternoon they’re slouched in sleepy nods,

but still they know who comes and goes. They nod
sly-eyed, if they like you they’ll give you smokes
or fix your bike, warn you about the milk, suggest beer,
give you a gracious pass at the door, mumble
salut! the end-all cheer of the bodega
when you’re gone forget you with a shrug

eh, whitey. Always wants something. Shrug
off to the back room, pool table, thick with nods,
good shot, cheater! asshole, conyo, bodega
men. In summer, their women come with their smokes,
pull lawn chairs under the one tree, mumble
uh-uh, no way, play salsa, goddamn it, more beer!

shout, shout, eh conyos! turn the music up! more beer!
You know what? Forget the milk I’ll just shrug
if off, coffee’s black, I’ll buy juice, mumble
my thanks, pass the women in their shady chairs, nod
at their young babies, every one of them has smokes
that’s the way it is downstairs, that’s our bodega

where the men crack beers before noon and nod
uh-huh, yeah, damned fucking car, shrug off and smoke,
turn on the transistor, mumble, eh, si, no, eh, shit, okay: bodega.