Ron Koertge retired as Professor of English at Pasadena City College
after 37 years. His latest book is Fever (Red Hen Press. Ask him to show
you his collection of 8x10 glossies sometime.
I watch the library clerk pluck books
from the night-drop and trundle them toward
the big door, I can't help but think of Richard Egan.
In nearly every movie, he escapes from prison
in a cart just like that.
Free at last, he's dying to prove he's been
blackmailed, but before that he wants to see
his fiancée. She lives on the first floor
of a rooming house. Her door is open.
The bed is made. She's reading a book.
"Sweetheart," she cries. "I was just thinking
about you!" He smiles like Richard Egan.
"I need to see Mr. Big, baby. He can clear things
with the cops. Get ready."
Richard Egan polishes
his uppercut for some
pretty boy and maybe that broad in the silver
shoes, too, as his girl puts her good blouse
and scarf in a battered suitcase.
She looks around the
room, then murmurs,
"Oh, that book I borrowed. On the way out
of town, can we drop by the library?"
That grin of his. That
white shirt with the top
buttons torn off in a fight. Those big hands in her intellectual hair.