Tonight I saw Dustin Hoffman
walking down Lexington Avenue.
He lives on 61st Street
and is a neighbor of mine,
you know.
He was a neighbor of mine
when I lived on 12th Street
and he lived on 11th,
before the Weathermen
blew the block up (and themselves)
by mistake,
although, of course,
we didn’t know each other then, either.
Once, however,
when I worked in a liquor store
we talked of red bordeaux.
This I have done with Kevin McCarthy, Madame Malraux,
Sumner Locke Eliot, Mrs. Lindsay, Gilbert Highet
and a host of others—tra-la, tra-la.

I have even imagined selling La Fite
to Lillian Hellman on Park Avenue.
I have, in fact, sold
“test tape” to Stanley Kunitz
and “Sinu-tab” to Howard Moss,
when I worked in that little drug
store on 6th Avenue, just across
from where eec lived years ago.

One of my most interesting
was with Donald Barthelme
about a screw-driver.
This was the year he won
the NBA for children’s literature.

These are the short stories of a salesclerk.
Above me lived a French woman
who had been a chamber maid
at the Plaza for twenty years.
What stories she had to tell.
Before they took her away
she would curse in French
at the dogs barking
in the courtyard below her window.
Oh what music they made together!