Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So This Is It Elmer


Drawers full of lotto tickets
old photos and tee shirts
you cut the Vs in
letters to vendors in Houston
who promised investments that paid off
and a watch that got lost.
What I think about most Elmer
are all the conversations, the hours
talking on the phone
or sitting across from your wheelchair
and not understanding
your garbled bubbly words.
I tried not to be impatient when I
couldn’t get it, no matter how hard you tried.
Sometimes I said I have to go
and I had nowhere to go.
On good days when I caught
you right after the meds kicked in
you’d be so lucid, so opinionated.
No end to the information you read.
Tibet, the Indians or the track.
When you were a Merchant Marine in the Philippines at sixteen.
When you put a bowl on your head for a haircut.
When we played dominoes outside with Jim
and Lorraine until it rained.
You wore a bib to catch the drool.
Deadly serious. you knew your moves.
Tongue tucked to the side of your left cheek.
Your big hands danced slowly on the blocks and Jim
at 92 added the whole board while I caught my breath.
You turned into an elf that day, got on the elevator
right in front of us and disappeared.
Lorraine said it was sweet to see you carry on.
You reappeared in the hallway and took
us to the electric piano where you played broken tunes.
Lorraine played next to you and you
banged some hot Hoagy and Stachmo
for the whole damned world to hear.


Tonight you lie in a coma
They say you can hear
that your pulse is low
that you’ll be gone tomorrow.
I talk on the phone with Debbie the nurse.
I’m in Florida I say.
I’ll have to be frank she says.

Here in Florida the moon’s a sliver first quarter
and Orion appears in red clouds.
Tonight your daughter arrived,
the one with red hair the nurse says.
Tomorrow the daughter who’s a nurse will come.
They are your children
and so am I.

Tonight Father Elmer
my crazy wild man
my insatiable clown
my streetwise intellectual
lost in a dopamine nightmare
that freezes thought and voice.
My father, Elmer-you are dying
and again I feel if only
I had enough cash-enough
flash-enough of something
to make your life easier
to relieve your pain.

Oh how you did go on
trying to rock the pain away
rocking in bed, rocking in your wheelchair
rocking on the john,
trying to rock it all out.
How lost I feel knowing
I won’t talk to you again.

Elmer, you’re the last bet at OTB
the last great drum in the night
the last bang on the table
the last squint in the face
the million dollar ticket.

Elmer, where ever the hell you’re off to
this time, we’ll miss you.
From here in Florida
to Norton, Mass and Jamestown, New York
the money’s at the window.
Your horse is at the gate.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Masks Are Marching

Today the refrigerators hum. The price of milk matches the price at the pump. New ice cubes clunk in all the freezers. Yesterday a man got out of prison after serving three years for throwing his black worker in a lion cage to be eaten.

Sirens wail. The limos drive candidates for froth and crowd management to the latest condo, to hoot the fervent backyard BBQs, the fallow rooms, deer heads nailed to old wood, their glass eyes witness from coonskin cap to tipping one for Jesus. The band thumps in time to the ever matching, clanking tanks rolling the sands, the hills, along the rivers from Georgia, Palestine, Darfur and Pakistan, the latter, another perpetual shrug, cash passed under the table, fists around the oil pipes from Venezuela to Afghanistan.

What does the day mean? Who will be the Vice of Whom? Not enough clout to the left. The obvious napkin and fork, the plate on the table in the house of discontent. A man of great honor refuses to bark at the door, a slick clearing of the throat to his right. Clusters, mumbles, wistfulness, the lost soldier, a blight, broken knight wanders backrooms, far from seven house splendor, a man of the people, who might have heard about the boy shot to death in the Knoxville cafeteria, now cold, stiff, the morgues of America filling with the disenchanted, the lost, the raging, addicted clots, a three winged duck in Fort Lauderdale seeking a home…but….but..

The cluttered week scatters and subsides the clap trap-the unwizardry of politics fading in quiz shows, crime repeats and soft porn until dawn. When the Summer Triangle fades the Northeast Sky, it will be Saturday and the roads, the parking lots, the giant warehouses stuffed with must-have 10 pound packs of chicken wings, wide screen TVs, Martha Stewart bedding specials, millions of chemically ripened tomatoes, Georgia peaches from New Jersey, entire mountains of cell phone possibilities, eight pound Gorgonzolas, one a day Cialus for a daily crack at the prize, will be on tap for a simple swipe of the card.

Unnamed Swiss consortium endorses Uncle Remus for sugar-free cereal ad. Federal investigators in Syracuse New York seek proof that terrorist chimpanzee was released on South Salina Street by Al Qaida. The unidentified chimp, who seems to pose no threat, and responds favorably to energy drinks and mild head stroking, appeared on an earlier video, obviously shot along the shores of Onondaga Lake near the now abandoned steel mill. A small group of protesters lined the Northeastern corners of East Genesee Street and Salina during rush hour waving banners that read, APES ENOUGH.

Hurricane Paula misses Texas. She blows a kiss from Merida. Northern Oregon thinks twice about Low Flow toilets. Amazon rain forest deforestation rises 67% and the U.S. Mint boasts an Alaskan State quarter portraying a grizzly with salmon in mouth. VP Candidate Palin disavows need to preserve polar bear as endangered species. Palin buys a whale..

Soon to be released film, “Manure” invites field of reviewers. San Antonio, Texas Independent book publisher in serious condition at local hospital after choking on a live squirrel while promoting memoir, IT BEATS ME by latecomer San Francisco poet, Lucifer, Stantmaker. Credit card debt soars. Bird seed distributor offers in-flight toilet paper dispensers for parakeets.

Bomb explodes in Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad. Heads line roadways in protest. Putin snickers at the World ATM. Condoleezza Lice sells Arab Cookie Jars to Israel entrepreneurs.
Boiled egg in Hollywood, Florida is said to possess a shadow of Jesus Christ in its yolk. A neighborhood hen is caged suspect. Local church claiming virgin birth seeks to preserve shell as historical evidence.

It’s Sunday, a sodomy of icons stamped on baseball caps, TV shows and panties, T-shirts, shampoo, whatever you need to be owned by. Slip on the Bible of your dreams. Get real. The organ plays and for a few short minutes, perhaps America fakes attentiveness, somewhere between the wafer and the wine, the signs, the blessings, perhaps a sacred universe, a digression to quieter times, of ruthless crucifixions, promises of renewal, awakening, sitting in the pews, restless, for something beyond the weekend off, and the howling, drooling, speculating, electrically magnified news, that wheedles, and gnaws at the remotes, the hearts, the very strings of the soul.