Lament at Le Petit Paris Cafe, Cape Town

by Ben Oswest

You girls are thin
because you smoke
and drink cappuccino
but don’t drink Coke
if you know what I mean.

You men are broke
because you like
thin girls. You can’t say no
when they’ve hiked
their skirts and spoken

so sweetly - “Mike
(or John or Bill)
have you got a light? Oh,
cheers, oh the bill,
how sweet. Thanks Mike.”

I’m over the hill.
I eat and watch
you young people. I know
your games. I catch
you take your fill.

You light a match.
She leans in close
and eyes the flame. You go
for her tits, or those
crossed thighs. Snatches

she gladly shows.
You laugh and grin
and she demurs - and when Ou
Rose Man comes in
she gets a rose.

- 1997

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