David Olsen


From among the Smith-Coronas, Remingtons,
and Royals on dusty display in a charity shop,
I choose an Underwood, and begin a patient search
for a new ribbon – a daunting quest for what
was once a trivial task.

I’m a wannabe Chandler or Hammett with a half-
empty bottle of bourbon, a dirty glass, and
a candlestick phone on a battered wooden desk
with sticky drawers. The filing cabinet’s full
of dirty shirts. A shoulder holster with a nickel-
plated .38 hangs from the clothes tree
in the corner.

My going rate’s 25 bucks a day plus expenses.
Unless I’m on a case, you can always find me
in my office – south of Market on Howard Street.
I’m waiting for a dangerous dame with great legs
and a slit skirt to saunter through that frostedglass door.
The floor’s littered with crumpled false starts.
I’ve typed Chapter One a dozen times, maybe more.
I want to type clak-clak- clak, but only manage
clack, clack. Reluctant sentences just beyond
reach evade me.

As fingers pound resistant keys, I hear the ding
of a silver bell warning of the approaching
end of the line.