Monday, May 24, 2021

The Candy Man by Jon Bennett

Jolene’s is an old horseshoe bar
with mirrors on the ceiling
The bathroom is often
the center of attention
because that’s where 
you do your cocaine
Even though it’s clean
the bathroom always stinks
because coke gives you diarrhea
A high school teacher named Frank
comes in every night at 7pm
he doesn’t do coke
just drinks 3 beers 
while reading the newspaper 
with a flashlight
We never had a conversation,
same age as me, same education,
I just never spoke to him
and maybe he had his own reasons
for not talking to me
During the day it’s a place
to die of alcoholism
not many people in the Tenderloin
have the money for bar drinks
when they’re that close
to the end
so it’s mostly empty
There was a tranny for awhile
who drank a fifth of Patron everyday
she’s dead now
and a guy I thought of as
the Candy Man
His name may have been John
it may have been Kirby
I don’t know what it was
He had been kicked out of everywhere else
though he didn’t cause problems
he just smelled bad
He had advanced diabetes
and an addiction to candy
All day he drank screwdrivers
and had a sack on the floor
full of sodas and red vines 
and other candy
I think he had no way
to really clean himself
and probably had neuropathy
which is numbness
and probably had open sores
from the diabetes
He sat in the back
people knew him and he’d
buy them a drink
to go to the store for him
for more candy
The Candy Man is dead, too
It doesn’t mean anything
that he’s dead
or that I call him the Candy Man
you could take it as a warning
but it’s not one
and although he’s dead
it still smells bad
over where he sat
not because of his ghost
but because it’s so close
to that bathroom.

Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco's Tenderloin. You can find his work on most music streaming websites and by visiting or

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