The Unsung Song of Harry Duffy

by G. E. Murray

Pure veins of bogus blue-blood and such fancy hungers
In the end no surprise of reports of you dying younger than your gods
Kicked back in the classic toilet scene
With a spike in your arm and twelve large in pocket
Thanks to a lucky day scamming the dumb Social Services folks
It’s a human thing, pants at your ankles, leaving unclean
Because life’s road is only one night in a bad motel
Harry, you could play basketball in your bare feet, and win
You could name all the provinces of Canada
And simultaneously scour the Social Register
For the names of those sad and silly girls you wanted to get right
You relished autumn leaves and ignited inglorious schemes
Deconstructing the idea of prep-school Friday sunsets
In lavish October, stealing among faculty hors d’oeuvres and sherry
All the while creating your own hooligan oeuvre
With your others off to Yale, Colgate, Brown
Night after night, alone in L.A.
Seeking better quotas, vistas, cushion, heroin
And that last tricky exit to the Santa Monica Freeway
In one more borrowed car with one more borrowed fiction
Oh yes, you must have been laughing
And spitting back at the boldface of Pacific wind
Cruising the left coast on sheer gall
But mostly, at 3 a.m., in the local playground, Harry
You played solitary ball
And dreamed of final seconds in a distant game
You drove to the sacred bucket with a fury
Slick crossover dribble, and then burst to the pull-up jumper
No harm, no foul, nothing but net.
But all alone, in the heart of West Hollywood, Harry,
You jerk, you bricked the last shot.