i knew nine-ball, craps, poker and straight pool.
I watched the older guys and learned.
I knew how to get out of a set of handcuffs.
I knew how to box,
and learned how to run when the odds were against me.
I worked after school, so I could eat.
I helped my old man stumble home,
when the bartender called my mom.
I read jack london, upton sinclair and orwell.
i ran numbers and a sports book.
i attended an all boys catholic high school.
i dated tough girls who knew the score.
i drank schlitz malt liquor
and drove in fast cars.
i knew all the right people.
i had respect and got good grades.
i went on to college,
then on to good jobs and scams.
i had it all.
now, at sixty-two i realize:
how dumb i was at fifteen.