Near to Real History

The poets are at war with the police, and have been ever since Thomas Miller tore the shirt off the bull Bill Bigarini in the Coexistence Bagel Shop. Miller wasn’t a poet, but a painter of black churches who heard voices and had an eating disorder; you could see the points of his hips jutting through the tattered hems of his sweaters. Bigarini was a cop, though, through and through, a thick-necked son of Italy who’d flush red at the sight of a woman without shoes, which is what kicked off the fight where he lost his shirt. Wendy Murphy’s sandals had broken so she left them in a trash can, which didn’t sit right with the patrolman.

Anyway. Bigarini arrested Murphy, and broke Miller’s head; even shirtless he was a crack hand with a nightstick. The poets plastered the streets with poems, north south east and west: may their paperbag souls rot their nightstick bones.

“I ain’t a robot,” Bill Bigarini complained to the press, as his fellow officers stormed barber shops and gay bars to tear down the poems. “I have feelings, same as they do.”

Bigarini would later lose a bid for sheriff after getting charged for corruption; he’d taken bribes, like many an officer, to let the gay bars stay open. Miller would die of starvation in a 70s hotel, the day after his last church mural was demolished to make way for a tourist hotel in Japantown.