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
you broke a pool cue over some guy’s back
because he wouldn’t stop talking while you were lining up
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.