A Sad History of Misfortune
I strode to the Pier in Coney Island
on Christmas day. Eleven degrees
and with a gale off the vast Atlantic
the temperature zipped
to well below zero. No place
to match this, my private scrap of Nirvana
but in the distance I spotted a soul
and when I approached
who should it be but Harry Henwood.
“Hey, ” I said.
He turned and at once
began to speak:
“God don’t love me
and not only me
my whole family is cursed.
My mother choked on a chicken bone
and died when I was seven
and my dad is doing
life for killing his brother
with an ax. No wonder
my sister is nuts
and gonna die an Old Maid.
I gave Ralph Dillon
the go ahead to poke Marie
but don’t you know she fell asleep
and Ralph filled with passion.
I told him the shrink’s medication
made her groggy, but I don’t know
if he’s ever coming back.”
As the tears fell
from Harry Henwood’s eyes
they froze in a flash
on his mournful face.
Silence. My body in bliss. Warm inside.
Suddenly: “What are you doing here? ”
“Getting ready to give God back
this load of flesh.
Enough is enough.”
“Not on Christmas day, you’re not
with a snowstorm coming in.
I’m only human, Henwood,
to watch you croak…
couldn’t enjoy nothing then.
A ten enough to make you smile? ”
Eyes shifting now
between me and the swirling sea
then a tilt toward Heaven,
fist suddenly shooting into the sky
finally: the smile.
Comments about this poem (A Sad History of Misfortune by Charles Wax )
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