Cruising the Mission for Hookers with the Buddha and Billy*

 Hunter Austin 


Turning left onto Capp from 16th riding south

in my splotchy green Dodge Valiant

dents and peeling chrome bumpers

rust underneath

looking for love

Our bellies filled with burrito from Puerto Allegre

The Buddha never had Guacamole or Jalapenos before

or burritos

His smile and belly full

lips burning


a dab of green at the corner of his mouth

he looked content


well, he is the Buddha


Billy sat in the back

With his bean and cheese

seemingly uncomfortable

Out of his element

He started to recite “The Art of Drowning”

with his mouth full

He said the word panic

And a saucy kernel of rice flew

over the seat

landing on the top of Buddha’s

light brown large pudgy hand


The Buddha glances at me

Serenely sideways

Smiling he turns up the radio

All along the watchtower

And Buddha’s smile spreads throughout the entire car

And I have to open my window to let some of his smile out

Billy realizes there is not

some kinda way outa here

as he leans his elbow on the broken

pull down, torn and cracked green naugahyde armrest

and sighs


The Buddha say’s “Hol’ up”

and motions to the right with his chins

Billy begins to perk up

I pull over

The Buddha and Billy are rolling down their windows

The two strumpets pacing in the alcove

of Rite-Aid’s delivery entrance




The Buddha’s smile embraces them

They float to the car

Brunette and platinum flesh filled fishnets

Pink satin hot pants brimming with backside

Bound up breasts spilling up and over

Fighting with Buddha’s smile for control of the car


Genuinely happy to be here

Billy has climbed out of the window

He is sitting in the space where the window was

his elbows rest on the faded Dart’s roof

his loafers on the cloth and vinyl back seat bench

The women are transfixed with Buddha

Billy can’t seem to get their attention

I guess enlightenment is not only its own reward


Platinum Marlo flip says


What kinda name is Billy

for a growed up man

Billy wriggles back in


He folds his arms over his chest and sighs again

He’s not upset

because he will go home

He will write a poem about tonight

It will turn out the way Billy Collins wants it to turn out

The Buddha will be in it and

I’ll be on the cutting room floor

with the burritos, the Dodge and

the hookers

content to not be

snowed by the truth of

Buddha being the ultimate Mack-Daddy


*Billy Collins: America's Poet Laureate 2003 - 2004 just in case you didn't know that bit of trivia.