January 30, 2013
Vol: 20 No: 5

Arts & Entertainment

Poetry Corner

By Larry Crist

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My Neighbor

Sometimes i see him on my way out
He’s a 9 to 5, 5-day-a-week guy
and i’m . . .
(well, that’s another poem)
He’s black, same age as me
lived in this house beside mine
all his life
Doesn’t care about gardening
which is what i am most often doing
when i see him
The roses in his yard
were planted by his mother;
he pays somebody to cut them back,
they flower and flourish

He drives a big car
parks it behind my small car
tells me of a break-in in our neighborhood
He’s up at all hours, looking out his window
i’m sure with my non-schedule schedule
i have woken him many times
as he seems to sleep as badly or as lightly as i do

i have demons in my head
vandal clowns ransacking my soul
i wake because i fear
life may indeed be useless
that the earth is doomed
and despite popular belief
there is nothing else

i am grateful for my quiet, well-groomed neighbor
whose roses don’t climb
whose car presents a far more tempting target
i’m glad he’s my neighbor and that we don’t have to be friends
On warm days through his barred window
i listen to him play blues on his guitar:
it’s a fine sound to live beside

— Larry Crist

on the Playground

They hung out in the yard with their chests puffed up
rocking back and forth, wearing new shoes
pressed pants, bright shirts with little emblems where their hearts should be
The Bush gang: Big Dick, Rummy, Tenet, Condi & of course W

i was new, i was always new, being new was getting old
but that’s how it is when you’re always new
You see wide brushstrokes of hierarchy—putzes with money
undeserving and fearful, banding together

W said something smart, stupid-smart—wise-assed stupid
Something about how i talked? Or my hair?
Patches on my faded jeans? i don’t recall
only from the way they laughed, i knew i would have to deal

Plus, they were standing in the middle of the four-square court
where little Katie Couric, Samantha Power and several others
from the fourth grade, wanted to play
Condi clearly had it out for these—prissy white bitches, as she called ’em
but then who was this Ann Coulter in the leather mini & heels
who sidled up along with that fat kid Rush and clung like gauze?

Big Dick was the real muscle and after that crack about my mother
i did the only thing i could, surprised him with a swift kick to the nuts
Rummy tried to intervene and i caught him with a fist
at which point Tenet ran off to rat me out
while Condi and Coulter stood in front of W like a pair of little boobies;
I guess they were trying to protect him, i can’t think what else to call it

You wait, he said, i’m going to tell my old man
I’ll tell my Arab pals! I’ll tell Mr. Reagan and principal Nixon and . . .

Move, you skanks (i said) or i’ll bitch-slap the lot of you
They cleared out
Katie and Sammy came over and kissed me on the cheek
Those fourth grade gals are darn cute

— Larry Crist

My Debut

It was some kind of Halloween play
i was playing a goblin
and my big scene was with the witch
who was a few years older
and had done this kind of thing before
Black, white, good, bad, i can’t recall which kind of witch
only that she was a competent actress

i had never seen so many people gathered in one place
My face was green, tights and turtleneck, green
wearing a green skullcap

My lines failed me
The competent witch
began feeding me them
She said her lines, then lip-synced me mine
with many a pause
she got me through my big scene like a ventriloquist

Little could i imagine
45 years later
i’d still be at it
repaying the debt
helping others help me
over and over as if it were all just one never-ending thing
spiraling into footlights
blinded by headlights
continuing in the spotlight
leaving after everyone else is gone
leaving the ghost light on
to burn through the night
for those who began
before me

—Larry Crist



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