Mathieu Cailler

Paul Newman’s U.S. Navy Jacket

Today, with some time
to spare, I ordered a
vintage military jacket,
even though I teach
middle school English,
even though the most
terrifying thing I do
most days is parallel
park my Buick
on Western Ave.

The jacket is a khaki color,
made of jungle cloth,
and lined with alpaca wool.

I was inspired by a vintage
photo of Paul Newman,
brushing through New York
in the same style coat,
hair tousled, gaze floating
to the right, half a Marlboro
tucked between his closed

I hope to pull off the same
sort of look, on one of
the few cold days in
Los Angeles. I hope
the jacket won’t feel
slighted to hang off
the frame of a non
red-carpet civilian.

I hope it will find
humble satisfaction
in the chairs
it will drape,
in the shirts it will
in the bodily warmth
we are destined
to share.

Mathieu Cailler is the author of six books. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in numerous national and international publications, most notably in The Saturday Evening Post and the Los Angeles Times. He is the recipient of a Shakespeare Award, a Short Story America Prize, and a New England Book Festival Award. Heaven and Other Zip Codes, his debut novel and most recently published book, has been hailed “a postmodern masterpiece” by Midwest Book Review and was named the winner of the 2021 Los Angeles Book Festival.