The Woman Who Sang Sinatra

We had just the one date
but it was a doozy,
me and the brown-eyed woman named Julie.
She was fun, she was late, but she wasn’t a floozy,
and I want you to know that I loved her truly.

I got in her car
and we hadn’t gone far
when she punched her tape deck like a fighter,
shouting “Hit it, Frankie!” with incredible verve–
as Pearl Bailey would say, she upset my nerve,
as I quietly sat there beside her.

She proceeded to sing “Come Fly With Me”
as if possessed by the Chairman of the Board.
A balled-up fist was her mike–
she just missed a stray tyke!–
and from then on it was she I adored.

She looked over at me
and I gather could see
I was not an exuberant Dago,
with WASPy flesh-toned glasses
that repelled female passes
and rhythm that recalls bad lumbago.

I joined in meekly
and she eyed me weakly
as if to say “What a wet dish rag!”
“Don’t you like Sinatra?” she asked incredulous,
“because if not there’ll be no Kuma Satra”
though my devotion to her was sedulous.

“Well, yeah—he’s okay,”
was all I could say,
but she divined my lack of enthusement.
I regret to this day
that to score a lay
I didn’t fake Sinatramusement.


We rode ‘round the park through “New York, New York”–
she became more convinced that I was a dork.
By the time Francis Albert had made it through “My Way”
She’d decided it was time for me to hit the highway.

She pulled to the curb to drop me off
and said she was throwing in the towel;
I begged for a chance but she said with a scoff
“Your last name don’t end in a vowel.”

Moral: It takes all kinds.

The People Who Won’t Get Back to Me

Literary agents, also editors,
But most assuredly not my creditors,
Someday they won’t mean jack to me—
The people who won’t get back to me.

Old girlfriends I find on the web—
One’s named Robin, the other’s a Deb.
I wonder whatever attracted me—
To the women who won’t get back to me.

Publishers, magazines, infamous authors–
I’ve sent them all emails, they can’t be bauthored.
Their silence speaks loudly this fact to me—
The people who won’t get back to me.

The people who’ve said to me “Let’s do lunch!”
Over the years I’ve collected a bunch.
There may be a hundred, I don’t know exactly.
The people who won’t get back to me.

Prospects to whom I’ve sent urgent wires
Urban mass choirs that I’d like to hire
Black, white or brown, they all turn their backs to me,
The miserable people who just won’t get back to me.

To a Prolific and Prurient Authoress of Flash Fiction

Darling, believe me, we’re all getting sick
of reading about your boyfriend’s dick.
I’m sure the thing can spring to glory
but must you include it in every story?

If your intent is to shock and awe
by revealing the thing that he likes to paw,
frankly, my dear, I find it a bore.
I’ve seen its like many times before
each morn as I stroll through the locker room-
hence my air of cranky gloom.

Take the word of this poor bard–
darling, you’re trying much too hard,
and if that advice has a punnish sound
consider the company you’re hanging around.

In sum, in my mind there is no doubt
you’ve better things to write about.
You’ve made his organ of generation
the singular object of your veneration.
You make me feel like a party crasher
and I get the sense you both are flashers.

I Got More Dog Than You

          Somebody knocked on Gavin Bushnell’s door at three o’clock in the morning.  He opened it and there was Sidney Bechet, with his dog.  Sidney said “I heard that you had a dog that you said was more dog than my dog.”  He’s bringing his dog there, and he wants to see whose dog is more dog.

                                   Quoted in Jazz, America’s Music, Ken Burns, Geoffrey C. Ward

I don’t care how much dog you got,
I got more dog than you.
My dog’s too big for most parking lots,
and several municipal zoos.

My dog can go around the world twice,
While your dog programs his GPS device.

I don’t care how much dog you got,
I got more dog than you.

I don’t care how much dog you got,
I got more dog than you.
My dog’s bigger than your dog by a lot,
and not just by a few.

My dog can conjugate verbs in French
He can fix your foreign car with a crescent wrench.

I don’t care how much dog you got,
I got more dog than you.

I don’t care how much dog you got,
I got more dog than you.
Folks always say my dog’s real hot,
and quite good-lookin’ too.

When my dog travels, he goes first class,
Comes back to coach to kick your dog’s ass.

I don’t care how much dog you got,
I got more dog than you.

I don’t care how much dog you got,
I got more dog than you.
I’ve given it a lot of thought,
and I’m givin’ your dog what he’s due.

Your dog’s missing part of his ear,
I wonder if my dog hid it somewhere around here.

I don’t care how much dog you got,
I got more dog than you.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Place

Her:

The first time ever I saw your place
With furnishings of orange and blue, oo oo oo.
I thought perhaps, this guy likes the Mets,
Or he hasn’t got a clue, my love–
Or he hasn’t got a clue.

Him:

The first time ever I saw your place
With pastel pillows all around—ow ow ound.
And a Streisand album on the turntable
That produced such maudlin sounds, my love–
That produced such maudlin sounds.

 

Together:

Now we live together, in a joint-owned space,
Where the work is split in two—oo oo oo.
Her decision rules as to furnishings
And the music he doth choose, my love–
And the music he doth choose.

Love Among the Sporks

In Clinton, Mass., there’s a factory,
straight outta the Industrial Revolution.
It cranks out product merrily
while it spews foul air pollution.

It was there while walking the streets one night
I spotted a wan factory girl;
her skin bleached white from lack of light,
her face the saddest in the world.

I couldn’t be a witness to such tragedy
without letting my heart have its say;
I stopped her right in front of me
and asked “Are you okay?”

She sniffled a bit, then began to cry,
I felt like a helpless dork;
The tears began to fall from her eyes,
and she told me about the spork.

“I work all day from dawn to dark
on a fiendish dining tool;
it’s not a spoon, it’s not a fork,
and the bosses are so cruel!”

I asked what kind of instrument
might this strange object be?
Was it a bowl-like implement?
or did it have tines of three?

She said “It’s neither fowl nor fish,
it’s betwixt and it’s between;
it cuts by a third the silver on your dish,
it’s something you’ve never seen.”

And then she reached into her purse
and from it drew a sight,
that shocked my eyes from bad to worse
on that dark starry night;

It was—a spork! A hybrid thing
that you could use to eat with;
It would pick up soup or anything–
It’d work to chow down beets with.

My joy worked wonders on her mood,
she brightened up a bit.
I guess she saw what it meant for food
and how people struggled to eat it.

“So you don’t think it’s the work of the devil,
This cross-bred thing of plastic?”
“Why no,” I said, and I was totally on the level.
“Au contraire, it’s a godsend, it’s fantastic!”

And so she linked her arm in mine,
we’ve been together since that day;
we went and bought a bottle of wine
and sporked the night away.

Moral: If you love what you do it’s not work.

The House With the Grave of the Girl Out Front

There was, in the town where I grew up,
A house with a tombstone laid out front.
It was flat, not upright, and on it was sprawled
A forlorn girl, sculpted from stone.

We used to wonder as we passed
Whether underneath there lay a corpse.
We’d joke in nervous tones about
The stuff that the worms were eating below.

One day on the way to the town swimming pool
A boy named Marty thought of a jest
He lay down upon the cold granite child
And curled his arm ‘round the girl’s stony breast.

We laughed at his antics, the guy was a nut.
We walked on but he continued his joke
When out from the door overlooking the street
Came the girl’s angry mother and her sister too.

“How dare you disturb the sleep of the dead!”
The mother said shaking, her grey face contorted.
“Hey lady,” said Marty, “Don’t get mad at me–
you were the one put her out on the street.”

The mother, enraged, flew back in the house,
The rest of us scattered, fearing the worst,
But Marty just laughed, and taunted the girl
‘till finally she spoke, in a mesmerized voice.

“My sister was no one that you ever knew,
She did you no harm—not poor Tara Lee.
You’re evil—there’s no other word to describe
The hurt that you’ve brought to my mother and me.”

Marty got up, and brushed off his pants,
And started to walk with the rest of the gang,
But before out of view he fired one last shot
“I’ll bet,” he yelled loudly, “your mom kills you too!”

The girl stiffened sharply and drew herself up—
“You horrible boy, you’re awful!” she cried.
Marty just laughed and hollered back “Skag!”
While we ran ahead, and he lagged behind.

· · · · ·

We grew up together, then drifted apart,
We each wandered off on our separate paths.
Marty stayed local, and worked for his dad,
He never aimed higher, and didn’t much change.

He dated around, but didn’t get serious
Until it began to be noticed a bit.
“That Marty, how come he can’t find him a girl?”
The townsfolk would ask, and he heard the talk.

And so in the span of couple of months
He wooed then he won a girl none of us knew.
She lived south of town in a house they would share
Once they’d slipped on the rings and had said their “I do’s”.

She was borderline tacky—to give you a flavor
Her bangs flipped up à la Farrah Fawcett-Major.
Her bridal flowers were baby’s breath.
And she went by the name of Liza Beth.

They walked down the aisle to Mendellsohn’s music.
And then slipped away, for their honeymoon.
They kept to themselves, we never saw Marty–
We figured they had what they needed themselves.

And then just as quickly as it had begun
The marriage was over, said Marty “It’s done.”
He moved back with his parents and stayed home at first
But then we would see him in bars by himself.

“Come join us,” we’d say, but he would refuse,
He’d stare in his glass as if oceans it held
And we wondered why—what was wrong with him?
Where was the quick laugh of boyhood days?

I happened to join him one cold New Year’s Eve
There was only one seat at the town hotel bar.
He looked straight ahead at the foam on his beer
but couldn’t avoid my inquisitive tongue.

“So tell me,” I asked him, intending no harm,
“Whatever happened to your Liza Beth?”
He turned and he looked at me, cold to the eye,
And recited these words with a chilling regret:

“We met and we sparked but we never made love,
She said we’d save that for our wedding night.
When under the covers I embraced her body
It turned into cold stone and spoke these words,”

“’The woman you married is the one who was buried
Beneath the stone marker in front of the house,
Where my sister and mother endured your crude joking
And you walked away with a cynical laugh.

“’And so the worm turns, as always it does,
If one has the patience to wait long enough.
Now I am the one who gives you an embrace
That unmans you now and forever my spouse.’”

“She grasped me,” he said, “her hand hard as stone,
And said these fell words, in a harsh, loveless tone:
‘Just as I am, so shall you be,
as lifeless and cold as death only can be,”

Thus spake the wraith named Tara Lee,
Then paused and spoke again, did she.
“’You will never have a son or daughter—
You will never hear their laughter
Because impotent you shall be,
From now through all eternity.’”

I gazed in his eyes, but saw nothing there,
They offered a view like a bottomless well.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said with alarm
And tried to escape from his gaze and his grip.

“You got off lucky,” he said, “but not me,
“I’ll be paying forever the price of my jokes.”
“Too bad,” I said standing, leaving him with this unction,
“There’s all kinds of pills for erectile dysfunction.”

“You don’t understand,” he said and started to cry,
“I haven’t said yet what she then did to me.”
I trembled as manically he gripped my arm,
Made no sudden moves, lest he do me harm.

“’You’ll get an erection,’ she said, “hard as a bone,
And once that has happened, ‘twill turn into stone.’”
His tale ended there, he hung down his head
Finally crushed by what he’d just said.

I reached to console him, I patted his back,
I said “You’ll be fine, pal, I know you’ll be back.
In fact,” I joked mildly, “If you want my view,
There’s plenty of guys who’d trade organs with you.”

“Granted,” he said, “I had turned hard as stone.
You’re kind and really, I don’t mean to cavil–
But she reached in her nightstand, removed her hot comb
And whacking my granite, she smashed it to gravel.”

Moral: A smart remark can come back to haunt you.

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