Cliff Fyman: An extract from TAXI NIGHT

A Conversation: Elinor Nauen interviews Cliff Fyman

An extract from TAXI NIGHT by Cliff Fyman, Long News Books 2021

Dad, my son said he’s been
a Met fan his whole life
and doesn’t want his baby boy
to have to go through that.
Is it all right
if he makes him a Yankee fan?


Driver, do you think this world
is going to survive another 100 years?
Tsunamis, earthquakes, frack oil drilling,
slant oil drilling. We’re digging in Texas
but at an angle under the Rio Grande
so we can steal Mexico’s oil at a slant.
Slant oil.
Polar ice caps melting, ozones splitting apart.
China’s cheating for war, Korea wants war.
46 percent of Africa has AIDS,
and Africa’s a continent not a country.
Indians and Pakistanis.
Jews and Arabs.
In Florida they had people voting
who were dead fifty years.
They had foreigners voting twice!
It cannot. It cannot survive
another 100 years. No way.
I don’t know what to tell my children.
Go to college? Get a good job?
Germ warfare, biological warfare.
Give me change of this.
I’d tip you but it’s my last bill.
Have a good fucking day, my man.


….Is this my favorite mayor
in the world? This is
…………….….How are you doing?
I’d like to extend an invitation
……….to join us for dinner
this Sunday eve. We’d love
…………………………….to host you.

Hello, Eddis.
……….This is Gaston.
…………….….Are you alone?
Can you talk?
Simpson and Bowles
……….are coming. I think
we shall set up a buffet.
……….Let each gentleman help

We’ll go over
what we talked about.

Ok, pal.
See you soon

and remember

if you don’t have a seat
at the table
you’re probably on the menu.


Driver, how was your night?
Mine was wack!
I’m a rapper and I’m supposed to
bring people in but no one came.
I feel so low.
I just want to have one more
rum maybe some grass
and go to bed
and call one of my ex’s
to come over
and give me a body rub.
Nothing complicated.
I don’t want to give of myself.
I just want him to rub me.
Driver, do you think that’s ok?

It sounds comforting.

That’s the right word.
You sound like a nice guy.
Driver, are you married?
What a catch!
What do you like to do?
This might sound weird
but would you like to rub my legs?
Could you pull over when we get there
and let me sit up front?
We could talk.
The good thing about these jeans
is they have slits in them
so you can reach in
and touch what you like.
Let me show you.


Let’s keep on subject
but change it a little bit.
Have you ever had
camel’s milk cheese?
Maybe it’s just me.
It had some lobster quality to it.
Do you remember?
Some salty lobster thing?
Maybe it’s just me.
Shit was weird.
Really weird.
Lewd I would almost call it.


I really only like people
who were born after August.


Are you going to make
rude mean
comments to me
the rest of my life?

Are you going to tell me
to go to a career center again?
Who do you know with
unlimited resources who
goes to a career center?


I’m through with drunken fucking idiots.
I am a drunken fucking idiot!


I just want to pay my
bills. I just want
to pay
my fucking


That gross asshole finance husband
does coke, strip clubs,
comes home with herpes,
sleeps with her best friends.
Why’d she marry him?


Hi, it’s me, Daddy.
I hear you’re bedridden
with a cold.
I’m so so sorry.
You promise, promise, promise
me you’ll take good care of yourself?
I’ve been working like a dog
all week but it paid off.
I’ll call you tomorrow from home
before my opening.
This is your little muffin, Daddy.


What the fuck, motherfucker!

Once you cross that path I will gun for you.
I don’t care.

I don’t like when people disrespect me.

I said let me find my own way home
and he followed me.

I make my own money
I have my own debit card
and I’m going to catch my own mother fucking subway home.


Like, why the fuck are you following me?


Photo by Barbara Henning.

Cliff Fyman was born March 3, 1954 in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village and grew up in Brooklyn, semi-rural eastern Long Island, and South Jamaica, Queens. Leaving school, he found his way to Berkeley in 1975 where he self-educated relying on the used bookstores on Telegraph Avenue. In the fall 1976 he attended the first S.F. Poetry Festival and heard Anne Waldman announce from the stage the beginning of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder. In March 1977, he rode a Greyhound bus through a blizzard in Wyoming to Colorado, and he studied at the Kerouac School that spring and summer. In 1979 he attended a workshop at The Poetry Project with Harris Schiff. His mimeographed chapbook Stormy Heaven was published by Misty Terrace press in 1981, and in 1982 he was awarded a fellowship from Creative Artists Public Service (CAPS) which included leading a year-long workshop at the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic. He attended workshops in the early ‘90s at the PP with Bernadette Mayer. He worked on and off as a yellow taxi driver at night in New York City from 1974-84 and then again from 2012-2017. He’s lived in the East Village since 1979 giving many readings and publishing in magazines and anthologies.

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A Conversation: Elinor Nauen interviews Cliff Fyman

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