for Bob Kunde
Life is a little short and a lot of nothing.
Give me the burlesque bosom of the fowl and the funny,
That old comedian who twines his waxy curls.
He hops a penguin’s hop across the street
And stops a man from beating his dog.
“Oh!” he groans, “leave that poor beast alone,”
And throws his arms around its knotty mane,
Cupping the wet snout to his earlobe.
“Ahem,” says the owner, “that’s no dog,
That’s my wife you have in your shoulders.”
“Pardon me,” says the chap with appled cheeks,
And picks up his bowler’s hat, and dusts the brim.
Life is a lot to wait, and no quick going.
That was grandpa in his gown at St. Timothy’s,
His body the ribbed and sunken tubers for IV tubes,
For the hose vining out the windpipe,
His voice gone—only the morphine humming.
Death was intolerable, tapping its foot.
The doctor assured us nothing but the best.
I was sure he held out hope
So long as our insurance kept.
“Will he walk out?” I asked, and the doctor said, “Yes.”
“Will he play the piano again?” I said,
And the doctor said “He will play the piano again.”
“That’s good,” I sighed. “He never could before.”
Life is a lot of remembering those things we have forgot.
It is gum on the shoe, it is the stiff, folded bill
From the jeans pocket balmy from the dryer.
All that we carry coming back to us rediscovered.
But there is something profane in us that makes
New things out of those that were only recovered.
A dollar I was paid back by my pants,
Some stranger’s gum I unweb from the carpet.
And you, grandpa, gone now,
Who I remember, when I remember burlesque—
Boudoirs of dark oak and virginal theatrics,
Gin-wet ribalds and feathered women’s breasts,
Each show performing gaily God’s unremembered jest.