Carl

When you’re an only child
but still not Number One Son
you’ve got to wonder
if you shouldn’t have been
Adonis or Hercules
Robin the Boy Wonder
or a dashing sultan
from the Barbary Coast.

You can’t run away from home
the J. C. Higgins has two flats
no foxtail and somebody
stole the rear view mirror,
you could hide out
among the Japanese
but you don’t like rice
and fishheads or harakiri,
if you had relatives in Cheyenne
you could go there
if you had bus fare but
you don’t even have a pot
to pee in.

But if you had
a smaller slower stepbrother
or live-in cousin from Canada
you’d be King of the Hill
Prince Charming on an Arab stallion
Head Man among half pints
and shrimps.

 

Death
Bed

Ma’s quit moaning,
she’s quiet for now.

The minister’s
at the kitchen table
having homemade wine with Pa.

He came in his sport coat
and Lincoln,
said the Lord’s prayer
and a few good things
about Ma’s life
in five minutes flat,
has been in the kitchen
for twenty
drinking homemade wine with Pa,
tells about last Sunday’s birdie,
new construction at the church
and radial tires
that go forever.

 

From Burnside To Goldblatt
By Streetcar

You’re only really safe in Burnside,
Right here in Hungarian Village, Uncle Oscar
Lets you know before your first streetcar solo
From 94th and Cottage Grove to 63rd and Halstead
To see Ma during break at Goldblatt Department Store:

keep an eye out for Jews
who’ll snatch your underwear;
Poles who’ll take
your Tom Mix whistling ring,  
finger and all, and your
Captain Midnight secret decoder;
the Italian neighborhood
is so hot it can blow any second
like a Chicago pineapple;
those Germans brained two nurses
and a nun just last Sunday;
the Japanese carve kids
with swords all the way
from head to toe,
toss pieces on front doorsteps
with the milk and morning paper;
the chocolate drops from Africa
blow poison darts with rusty barbs,
steal your change,
streetcar transfers
and baseball cards, dance around
as you lay dying forever;
when — and if —
you get to Halstead Street
watch for Mongolian perverts
under manhole covers,
Armenians in the awning
with deadly piano wire,
avoid basements and Ukranians
with beards and damp knives

And you wonder just how much you want a chocolate soda
At the soda fountain with Ma
During break at Goldblatt.