Pit Letter

by Tyner White
Dear K,
They are selling cheap porcelain mugs at this garage
where I stand out of change, waiting for the pump boy
to return with some dimes. I am going to put each dime
in this phone
and hope one of the numbers in my head will give me
your voice.
I hardly deserve that. I have never been deeper in grime.
The dust here is visible in the sunlight. The tiger
on these mugs, painted with some casual impressionism,
looks easy to scratch away, I could do it with my nail.
The pigment
would come off like dust — the truly commercial artist
is that frail. Thinking of the colors on these mugs
and that gingerly tiger . . . this pump boy has no dimes.
Heavy-set man wearing wire-rimmed glasses, too huge and
benign
for a punk, but not bright — like this tiger — he reminds
me
of my uncle whose friend, a huge man with a mustache
(I don’t suppose I ever knew his name), gave me
the color pencil, with four shades of pastels —
orange, red, green, yellow —• cool soft colors
sectioned down the lead so that I could turn the pencil
and change the hue of the line I was drawing. You expect
some play on my name here. The tiger on the mug
is done with some of diose colors, and the whole thing
is the same kind of giincrack, intended to make friends
for an oil company I suppose. I really do not know
what became of that pencil. K, what became of me?
Dear K, I constructed wonders with that pencil, poly-
chrome dreams
of enraging the world (there it reminds me of you.
What have I made of you? Your colors, flagrant, your
wild taste
in fabrics). The memory of my pencil becomes dearer
suddenly
as if I knew now what it meant, though I took little
care of it then.
In each picture I undertook the strangest economies,
as though such drawings would be few, as few as the days
I have seen you. But my pictures were so cool and so
expressive
of her worst fear that my maiden aunt flushed
and behaved like an extrusive mother to see them.
Others were likewise impressed, and I became very severe
and calculating with such privileges.
You see I knew how to tempt the world and make it love me
in the rotten way I love. Soon I was buried in its
clammy arms
as in these recollections which are only keeping me
from the phone. But how should I tell you more stories
when I have nothing to say. I shall call up all my
friends instead,
call long distance all those in the world up there
who look on with such concern at my puddle of oil
and see nothing of me except window reflections in the
plated
surfaces of this telephone, the directory in its sheath,
all the ephemeral merchandise in the garage, this tiger
which they will be deciding whether to ransom
at half-price. As I am sure you will not.
I must leave you, dear K. As above. I remain,
hopeful as ever, your lost

Joseph