Respect

By Andy Mitchell

They remember you from the donut shop,

mellowed by age, those who say

you were such a sweet man. And you always were

to me. But they didn’t know you

back when

you broke a pool cue over some guy’s back

because he wouldn’t stop talking while you were lining up

your shot in a pool hall in Milwaukee;

back when

you ran with the bulls in Pamplona;

back when you chewed an umpire’s head off for calling you out

at home; back when

you chased down a cabdriver in New York for calling you a

“country bumpkin.” At least that’s how Mom tells it.

I’m sure his words were stronger, just as surely

yours were after you caught up alongside the taxi and gave

the man behind its wheel a piece of your mind, to which he replied:

“You’re alright, Illinois,” undoubtedly seeing your plates.

You had earned his respect, granted

in an altogether different way

than you’d earned that of the regulars at the donut shop.

But respect is respect. And, one way or the other

you always managed to earn it.

 

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