Litkicks Message Board Archive

true story

Posted to Poetry




John is the king of the basement
He sits on a throne of newspaper
The reference being obvious
The inference now subdued
Above in the tiny kitchen
Dawn is making canapés
With bread, pink and blue
The reference being obvious
The inference now subdued
A plate of eggs, hardboiled
In a mixture of beet juice and oil
Left stains upon the table
That scrubbing will not remove
I pass John his pipe
I pass John his bowl
“There’s whiskey in the rafters
above your head a liquid gold.”
I reach up and retrieve the scotch bottle
And after a long swallow
Pass it on to his majesty
He removes his thorny crown
And asks, ”What shall we do now?”
The bowl makes one more round.

This is the same John that when we lived together, above the sewing machine repair shop, received a frantic knocking on the door and a young frail girl was standing there crying.” John will you come look at Melissa. She’s really really sick and since you are a nursing student and all I thought you might know what to do. .”
We went down the hall to the next apartment where the young six-year-old daughter was lying. You could tell that she was ill, hot, feverish, and groggy. In the small apartment, one room, sat the child’s father slumped in a chair, his works on the table beside him, his syringe on the floor at his feet. I looked again at the mother, her eyes were tired and drained, her arms looked clean though . . .then again her nose was red and sore looking but perhaps she had the same influenza.
“We’ve got to take her up to the hospital.” John spoke to her” she is very very sick and most likely dehydrated.”
“But what about me?” she looked at her mate on the chair” and this?”
John reached out and touched her and said” It will be okay. I will help you.”
I remember when we walked out, John holding the baby and Dawn in-between us that it was snowing and across the valley the church bells were chiming. John reached out and touched Dawn's face where the flakes were sticking to her eyebrows.
“It’s going to be okay.”

At the door at the top of the cellar stairs
Dawn stands and says to his highness
“Honey when you’re done will you open the pickles
and help with the decorations?
It’s a quarter past six and the girls will be here at seven.”
John nods and smiles and says
“It’s going to be okay.
I’ll be up”
“Baby shower for her sister.”
He hands me the bottle.
“ Want another?”
I do but say “nah I think I got to go”

I don’t have to imagine
That while the shower goes on through the evening that John sits on his throne of newspapers, in his hands Thomas Mann’s “Magic Mountain” or Hesse maybe “The glass Bead Game”
(read the poem again stop at “the bowl makes one more round”
draw your own conclusions)