An old man, a poet of the generation of Kerouac, Corso and Ginsburg, is at the lectern tonight in the auditorium of a small college nestled in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Although widely published for many years, both in the United States and abroad, he has never done a reading of his work. He attended a reading once, back in …
Almost toothless now,
old Romeo puts his Bible down,
relaxes in his rocker,
pours brandy in his snifter
and scribbles in his ledger
memories of Mary,
dead some 40 years now.
When Romeo was young
and dark and dashing, Mary
was the perfect foil.
He can see her dancing
and hear her laugh, a note
no mockingbird would try.
He tells his chauffeur,
“Bring the car around.
I need to buy a diving board
for the swimming pool.
The doctor says I’m terminal.
Six months, he says.
I want to dive in Mary’s eyes
tonight and drown.”
Victor, not victim; calling his shots to the end. – mh clay
Two new crutches and two double shots of Bushmills Irish Whiskey enabled Joe Faherty to move from the back seat of Moira Murphy’s 1976 Buick into Eagan’s Funeral Home for Tim McGillicuddy’s wake. At 87, Joe was in bad shape, only a tad better than McGillicuddy who looked splendid in a rococo casket. The way the funeral home had painted …
Listen up! It’s Deacon Simon here,
reporting on Pastor Harold Schnabel,
the minister we long ago defrocked.
Remember how he went to Holland
years ago. Hard to believe but
he’s coming back a millionaire
who made his money
running a bordello for midgets
with Peyronie’s Disease
in downtown Amsterdam.
He hired his staff carefully,
favoring double-jointed women who
understand the geometry of angles,
isosceles and otherwise.
He’s coming back to take advantage
of an American Renaissance
in porkpie hats. He says men
will wear them once again
this summer and possibly forever.
It will be the same porkpie hat
made famous by Buster Keaton,
the beloved comedian,
who for years was chief custodian
in Harold’s congregation, long before
we deacons finally defrocked him
for simony, calumny,
heterosexuality and serial fraud.
Anyone who thinks Harold’s wrong
about an American Renaissance
in porkpie hats needs to remember
the startling success he’s had
running that bordello for midgets
with Peyronie’s Disease.
The staff of ladies he recruited.
made Harold a millionaire.
We defrocked him for cause but
he’s an entrepreneur extraordinaire.
He knows midgets and porkpie hats.
So, please, join me at the airport
Sunday morning after services
so we can make Harold’s return
to our beautiful city a boffo event.
He’s giving out free porkpie hats
to everyone who comes to greet him.
And big discounts to all midgets
with Peyronie’s Disease planning
a trip to Amsterdam this Spring
to admire–what else?–the tulips.
There will never be another Harold.
Let’s welcome Pastor Schnabel home.
Ecclesiastical outcast turns entrepreneur; pleasure purveyor with a keen fashion sense. Welcome back! – mh clay
with apologies to Jonathan Swift The other day I was talking to a neighbor who said he found a way to help the poor and improve our environment simultaneously. It’s no secret, he said, that we have a dire food shortage among the chronically poor. It’s also no secret, he pointed out, many of our cities are overrun with feral …
It’s a matter of the heart,
the doctor says,
and he can fix it
with catheter ablation.
“It works miracles,” he says,
“in certain matters of the heart.”
He’s been a cardiologist for years.
“Take my word for it,” he says.
“You’ll be sedated. Won’t feel a thing.”
No excavation in my chest, either.
Instead, he’ll make little holes
in my groin and snake tiny wires
to the surface of my heart
and kill the current that makes
my heart race like a hare
at times and mope
like a turtle other times.
He’s never lost a patient.
“You’ll be fine,” he says.
Nine out of 10 ablations work.
I’ll save hundreds a month, he says,
on medications. No more Multaq.
No more Cardizem. And I’ll never
have to wear a heart monitor again.
“Shall we give it a try?” he asks.
“I’ve got an opening
two weeks from Monday.
It’s an outpatient procedure.
You’ll go home the same day,
rest for a week and then resume
your usual activities, even bowling.
Do you like bowling? My nurses do.
I prefer woodcarving.”
“Okay, Doc,” I tell him.
“I’ll give it a try, but tell me,
where were you 40 years ago
when the kids were small
and I was young, like a bull,
and a different matter of the heart
dropped me like a bullet.
Are you sure my heart’s still ticking?
Where’s your stethoscope?
I haven’t felt a thing in years.”
You can lead a heart to fixing, but you can’t make it heal. – mh clay
Pedro swings a mop all night
on the 30th floor of Castle Towers
just off Michigan Avenue
not far from the foaming Lake.
The floor is his, all his,
to swab and wax till dawn.
The sun comes up and Pedro’s
on the subway snoring,
roaring home to a plate
of huevos rancheros,
six eggs swimming
in a lake of salsa verde,
hot tortillas stacked
Pedro writes a poem
the wife who waits
in Nuevo Leon.
He mails the poem
that night, going back
to his bucket and mop.
of three small sons,
in the making.
On Christmas Eve
the boys wait up
in Nuevo Leon
and peek out the window.
Papa’s coming home
Pedro arrives at midnight
on a neighbor’s donkey,
a giant sombrero.
He has a red serape
over his shoulder,
and he’s juggling
sacks of gifts.
When the donkey stops,
the boys dash out and clap
and dance in circles.
in the doorway
This Santa is no holiday concoction; he arrives with gifts and laughter for real. Feliz Navidad! – mh clay
Freddie and Fern were an old couple, a very old couple if truth be told, but on the matter of age, the truth seldom surfaced. Their kids were grown and gone and had families of their own. All of them lived in different cities and two of them had even asked their parents to sell the house and buy a …
What if your parents
had never met
had never married
had never yelled
at each other
and instead had wed
someone they loved
and lived peacefully
all those years.
That would have been
their Eden but you
shaking there now
wouldn’t be with us
cursing the tremors
of a nuclear childhood
you still remember
long after they’re dead.
Fusion or fission, we are we because they were they. – mh clay
Henry and Wendy Throckmorton had been married a week when Henry took Wendy to his garret 100 miles south of their estate in posh Kenilworth, a suburb of Chicago. Wendy thought she was going on a delayed honeymoon. Henry had never told her that he was a painter by avocation. She knew only that he was a successful patent attorney …