Charles Chaim Wax
When I Landed In Coney Island
Poem by Charles Chaim Wax
I was in luck because Candy sat alone
in Kansas Fried Chicken.
She possessed the soul of a poet
and the body of a sex goddess,
but things had not gone well for her,
I was sure of it,
even though she never spoke
about the details of her life.
“How do you feel? ” I asked.
“Snowing, ” she said,
“just your kind of weather.”
“Where’d you get this liking for the cold? ”
“I told you I was born in Siberia.”
“Last time you said Outer Mongolia.”
Just then Irving trudged in.
I nodded to him
and he sat at our table.
“I got to have an operation on my leg, ” he said.
“The third one. Diabetes.
After my wife died
everything went bad.
And where I’m living they don’t give heat! ”
“Call Housing, ” said Candy.
“BUMS, ” he exploded leaping to his feet,
only to plop down a second later.
“I had a hard life.
I didn’t ask for a hard life,
but I had a hard life.
My two children I hadda bury...
all sorts of pain.
I force myself to go on—
Memory...what a torment!
Do I make sense? ”
“Yeah, ” said Candy softly.
“The plug has been pulled.
I’m in the bottomless hole! ”
Candy closed her eyes,
breathing deeply, words almost
ready, but not yet.
Irving going on, “I can see why
there are suicides…”
“No, ” gasped Candy.
“Yesterday I fainted twice
trying to tie my left shoelace.
Such a thing! Go know
God hates me. I never knew. Now I know! ”
“Do you need a few dollars, Irving? ” Candy asked,
“to get a good meal.
It’ll cheer you up.”
“Another life! my darling.
Can you help me with that? ”
Candy staring at Irving, lips quivering
perhaps now, then: my mother did it.”
The words out. Silence.
Snow everywhere. Streets covered.
Finally. “Bernstein, get a pint of cherry liqueur for the hotel
and a bag of chips and a ginger ale.”
“Between a man and a woman
I don’t interfere, ” said Irving,
dragging his flesh into the blasting snow.
I raced after him
and slipped a five dollar bill into his hand.
“Which way is Paradise? ” he whispered.
“The next step, ” I blithely proclaimed,
then went half way down the block
to get the stuff for Candy.
When I returned
she brushed the snow from my beard.
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