Brian Mayo

Gold Star - 12,362 Points (1960)

A Poem That Killed A Man - Poem by Brian Mayo

Did you know my friend Dave Magill once wrote a poem that killed a man?
It’s the truth. I’m not sure the guy even got to finish reading it...

Dave was peeved at him about something... I can’t remember what.
Anyway, that part doesn’t matter.
What matters is what happened after...

We were sitting in the clubhouse on one of those Saturday afternoons that everyone faces from time-to-time- -too damn hot to play another nine. Pitchers of cold beer, air-conditioning, and the promise of a decent burger kept us firmly planted on our stools.

Anyway, this guy walks in and Dave taps me on the shoulder... gives a little jerk of the head. He whispers, “That’s the guy...”

I turned my head. “What guy? ”

I saw ‘the guy’ take a seat in a corner booth. He seemed harmless enough- -just some old man dabbing at sweat on his forehead with a blue bandanna. I watched as he began flipping through a menu.

Dave looked at me and shook his head. He curled a lip. “What guy? - The guy to whom I’m gonna teach a little lesson, that’s who.”
He ripped a napkin from the dispenser, and began to scribble words on it with his golf-pencil. (Up until then, he had been adding up our front 9 scores.)

I frowned and grabbed him by the elbow. “Are you sure you want to be doing that, Dave? ” I asked gently.

He shrugged me off with a violent twist of his upper-torso. “Shut the hell up! That bastard needs a little dose of what-fer.”

Three minutes later he put the pencil down and proclaimed himself satisfied. I was going to ask if I could read it, but just then our food arrived. I tried to make small talk as we doctored our burgers with pickles and onions and stuff from a large, round platter on the bar. “That was a nice tee-shot on nine...” I ventured.

“Don’t change the subject, Brian. That’s the guy who almost hit me with his drive on 6, and you damn-well know it. Don’t play dumb- you remember.”

I didn’t, but decided to play it safe. “Oh, yeah; that was a close call.”

“Yep, and now I’m gonna make him pay…”

I smirked and went to go wash my hands; I was certain the handle of the tomato fork had just transferred a lethal disease to my fingers. When I returned, my golf partner was grinning like an idiot.

“He’s got it! ” He exclaimed in a loud stage-whisper the moment I sat down.

“He’s got what? The poem? Shoot, I didn’t get to read it... How the heck did you get it over there so fast? ”

“I just walked over and asked if I could borrow his ketchup. As soon as he turned to reach it, I laid the napkin on the table. It’s called ‘misdirection, ’ Brian, and I am a master of it. He’ll discover it any second”

“Well, in the meantime, I’m gonna eat my burger. I don’t suppose you hung on to the ketchup...? ” I asked, looking around.

“Ah, no, I returned it.”

“That was ballsy of you.”

“It’s called ‘commitment.’”

“Whatever.” I said, through a mouthful of ketchupless fries.

“Look! He’s reading it! ”

I glanced over. Sure enough, the old geezer was squinting at the napkin, frowning.
He held it close to his nose a few times, obviously having difficulty with one or two words...
Suddenly, his face went white and he clutched at his chest, gasping for air, mouth opening and closing like a goddamn fish. It was the funniest thing I ever saw. At least- -it was funny for a few seconds. Until he started pounding on the table hard enough to rattle the silverware and he began clawing at his throat- -then it wasn't quite so funny anymore.
He gave a sudden lurch, tried to get up- -failed- -and instead threw himself from the booth. He went down hard- collapsing on the floor like a broken puppet. I heard his head bounce off the tile like a bag of golf balls. He turned three different shades of purple before he stopped kicking- -dead as a flounder.

I was horrified to see the killer-napkin still gripped in the man’s hand.
I snuck at glance at Dave. He was smiling happily, but behind the eyes I could see wheels turning... He was devising a perfect, simple plan to get his poem back. One that would, no-doubt, rely heavily upon misdirection and sleight-of-hand.
And not because he was worried about the cops...
No, I’m pretty sure he wanted it for his scrapbook.

Topic(s) of this poem: golf, poetry

Form: Prose Poem

Poet's Notes about The Poem

This is a work of fiction.
Dave Magill is a friend of mine- -but no, we have never played golf together, and as far as I know, he has never killed anybody (with a poem) .

Comments about A Poem That Killed A Man by Brian Mayo

  • Mike Smith (3/1/2016 10:25:00 AM)

    Gripping with just enough suspense to keep you entirely curious but not so much it begins to annoy the hell out of you to know the ending. I like the fact that we never get to learnthe words on the napkin
    Especially since they might very well kill us too.
    (Report) Reply

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  • Wes Vogler (11/24/2015 9:51:00 AM)

    So the real Brian Mayo rises in the water, peers around, and submerges once again without a sound. How many tentacles? Pretty cold, Brian. (He saw her face and all the fun went out of him)
    incidentally, what the hell makes that a POEM?
    (Report) Reply

    Brian Mayo (11/24/2015 11:37:00 AM)

    Edit: At least, I ASSUME this review was meant for Dark Water...I guess I could be wrong. If I'm wrong, I'll admit I don't fully understand your response (which is why I figured it was meant for the other poem.)

    Brian Mayo (11/24/2015 11:27:00 AM)

    I know this review of yours was meant for my poem Dark Water. No sweat. But didn't you say something about criticisms being witty? This review doesn't seem that witty, to me.

  • Pamela Sinicrope (11/5/2015 9:00:00 PM)

    Killer poem on a paper napkin... How many poems about poems on paper napkins do you have in your repertoire? Interesting theme emerging here! What's the fate of that napkin? Is this the same napkin that spoke out in that other poem and ended up on the Internet? What are the words? Is it that other poem you wrote... The actual killer one? Fun! (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, November 5, 2015

Poem Edited: Friday, May 20, 2016

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