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Theodore Worozbyt

Two Poems

Goodnight, Irene


My only father got drunk playing golf at the country club. There was an Olympic pool where I swam happily all day and made Marco Polo friends and there was a grille by the tennis courts where faceless they browned the hot dogs on a flat top and spread soft split buns with melted butter from a brush and flattened them on the grill to toast crisp and brown and pale yellow in the center against the stripe of yellow mustard from a bottle with a tip, snaking in a zig zag, which was all I ever wanted. I hated catsup or anything that would muddy the delicacy of the buttery crisp of the edges of the bun, the browned casing snapping against my front teeth as I bit hungrily into the thing, lifting my face at the sun, loving hunger.

I forget to continue: he was drunk, and my mother and I took either side of him and carefully walked him to the car as he swayed and stumbled through the sand in the summer twilight. He sang, “Goodnight Irene,” which I knew at nine was a standard song of the drunk, a part of Jackie Gleason on Sundays before Star Trek and bedtime, that beginning of sadness. And I knew how some part of it was made violently up of violas, some kind of game that pretended to be more fun than it was. He was awfully drunk, though. If my memory is correct, which it isn’t, that would be the night where he got laid out on the gold fur den couch against the woven hemp wallpaper and mother allowed me to jump on his stomach and he didn’t wake.

Novels

The cell snaps away from her lips ending a conversation and I notice her nude lobe bears the gray trace of an ideogram signifying deep and silent water. I slip the photographs of my baby into the hip of a black attaché. She lifts the snub-nosed Taurus .38 toward the glint of her magmatic glasses and the arranged bullet disappears on red wings through the bedroom ceiling. It nests in the uncut holly to perch and peck at mullions and scream at every sunrise. I grunt and throw my own glasses against the suddenly softened wall. Her lips resemble roses cut from pork or rhodochrosite. The novels lining a cherry drum table beside the fire are Vladimir firsts and lie soaked among tree roaches in the grass. When the spiderweb of tumors kills the baby I countenance only unsigned white flowers at the ceremony, that’s how I am, absent and pale. The garden out back remains typically Russian, raveled with frozen maggots and beets mimicking radishes. Our news hopes in red ink god is willing to go out there and kill them at the game. I cancel the paper with a quick call and slice an eggplant to fry for dinner. Bitter droplets rise from the flesh.




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