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Kingpin

I could not help when you needed to borrow $50,000. I was unemployed, you see, and had no money to lend.

Instead, I had to listen as you telephoned your business partner and railed at him for stealing profits, for refusing to share the riches.

I had to watch mobsters drag you from the sidewalk, beat you with a pipe, knock you unconscious, throw you onto the back of a flatbed truck and hack off two of your toes with a meat cleaver. You recovered but had to wear special shoes so you could walk, and your debt remained unforgiven.

I thought I would intercede on your behalf with the Kingpin. I went to his bar, where he was holding court wearing diamond-encrusted watches, two of them on the same arm. If I had his money, I said to the guy to my right, I wouldn’t spend it on watches.

The Kingpin shouted. He called for the T-shirt the crowd had made for him, the one summarizing his life, the one on which we had written an adjective apiece in colored felt-tipped markers.

I told him I wanted to write a book about him, but he insisted on approving the manuscript.

I crawled into the kitchen, where the Kingpin’s wife was cooking. She said to me, Most people think he and I don’t love each other, but we really do. The Kingpin entered through swinging doors and began talking affectionately to her. This was not the Kingpin I knew, all bluster and bravado. She told me they loved to cook as he stood beside her while she fried vegetables in a black skillet over a blue gas flame. I spilled crushed ice on the brick red tile floor and tried to scoop it up before the Kingpin noticed.

I left the bar with a woman in a long coat, her hair in a white scarf, walking through town, looking for the depot. We did not speak. We were in the wrong neighborhood. We didn’t belong there.

At one point, we had to walk through a revolving door, but the door revolved vertically, like a Ferris wheel, and we had to bend like sticks of gum to pass through. When we emerged on the street below, pedestrians shunned us. We kept walking, but scandalized people stood jeering in half-open doorways, storefront signs illegible.

Finally, someone drew back a large curtain, and there was the depot. Our train was leaving. I jumped aboard the moving locomotive but soon discovered the train tracks ran in a tight circle, passing behind and then in front of the curtain, locomotives nose-to-tail, going nowhere.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
anthrojesus
Mar. 17th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
If you haven't considered publishing, then I urge you to start a collection or show this to a publisher.

There are many who could learn from this poem. I know I have.
patrick_vecchio
Mar. 17th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
That's a fine compliment indeed, considering its source. Thanks, Jared.
anthrojesus
Mar. 18th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
"Considering its source," ay? You'll have to explain that one to me if you're feeling generous. Either way, bon voyage.
patrick_vecchio
Mar. 18th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
By that I mean that you're an intelligent, highly critical reader who suffers fools neither gladly nor otherwise.
nodressrehersal
Mar. 18th, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)
Another incredible, reads-like-a-dream-to-story piece. Wow, it's all there, just enough and not too much.

in a black skillet over a blue gas flame Love it.
patrick_vecchio
Mar. 18th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jamie. My next poem is going to be an experiment in Salvador Dali's paranoiac-critical method. It's written in my head; I just need to get it down in pixels.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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