Phone Booth in Tujunga, CA

yellow gold hills of dust where that diner

tucked in among the pines and stone

it’s where we had long talk of ex

husbands and wives

over hamburgers and cokes spiked

with your flask of Jameson

before we headed back

out the door, but you left your smokes

inside and had to hit the ladies one last time

so I took the moment to use the old

phone booth by the road, door whining

open and fishing quarters from my

pocket to call back east, could still

hear “Old Shoes (and Picture Postcards)”

from your open car window, and all

of the sudden I didn’t have anyone

to call, no number coming to mind so

important that I had to slide them quarters

home, so I didn’t, I just waited for you

to come back to the car and we held hands

going faster and faster down those hills back

to the valley where we’d part ways at the

East Hollywood bus station later that night

knowing it was a long shot we’d ever

see each other again, but knowing the road

held stranger things than a reunion

so who knew? not us, not the fry cook, not Tom

Waits, or even the bus driver stealing me north

one last time along our golden coast

before we both became memories at last  

Previously appeared in Feral Kingdom (Kung Fu Treachery Press, 2019)

James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review and the author of Feral KingdomNights Without RainDead City JazzWhat Lies In Wait, and other collections of poetry and fiction. He is a former editor at Writer’s Digest, a graduate from a now defunct Vermont college, and a reviewer of indie bookshops at his blog, The Bookshop Hunter. For more, visit