Bionote: I'm the author of two chapbooks. "Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty" has been nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award for best books published in 2017. I'm posting my serial novel "The Country/The Country" on line at https://www.inkitt.com/stories/thriller/226757?utm_source=share_author_reminder, hoping to reach the thrilling conclusion in time for the November election. It's a desperate struggle.
The World According to Anne's Knee
Look here, knee
Do you realize it's October?
A bleak beginning to Anne's favorite month
these shabby shadowed skies
hanging about like a boyfriend you can't get rid of
Look, knee, you've got to get straight
no more whining for special treats
like those ice baths you crave every hour or two
that little hoppy walk you take
while leaning on some old fella's arm
Taking up most of the bed while your near
and dearly connected neighbors and
those long-suffering family members --
backbone, shoulder, neck, lateral extension
contort themselves through nighttime tortures
to keep you happy
Look, knee, I'm not kidding
the time for tricking up is at an end
before the pain you've put us through
sends the whole joint 'round the bend
Straighten up and take your place
the world must walk, and taste the air,
Though we acknowledge from now on
this rat no longer joins the race
of those who dash to find a place
to wind the world and make it run
But, damn, a little walk is fun.
As Brat Nominee makes clear in his 'left-wing conspiracy' diatribe,
all this made-for-TV reality show loud-mouth posturing
is simply political-power warfare by other means.
His cartoonish lout wears the comic book costume Rightwing Hit-Guy,
waving an empty fifth.
Isn't that enough? he cries to faithful. Isn't that what you wanted me to be?
If you want reproductive rights churned into fish eggs, I'll wade in and do the job,
like a backstreet termination, blood and pain at curtain time
Or enshrine the boss’s rights to pick the pockets of mere wage-earners
Or ask the very intimate questions of 'political opponents' Brat so resents being
All this offered up to his masters on the basis of fraudulent claims
for personal achievements due in fact to privilege.
Lots of us got into Yale, Brat,
even those whose family members were not alumni,
and are now compelled to ask ourselves why buffoonish Hit-Guy
shitting all over an alma mater is painful,
as if as if not realizing you loved her until somebody drags your Ma,
or aged Granny, or old girl friend into disrepute...
What can an Old Blue say to this ugly mud-wrestling display of an age-old
droit-du-seigneur to despoil the countryside of humanity?
I say wipe the floor with this bum,
the Statue of Liberty arriving on stage to drag the braggart off to hell
as in the conclusion to the magnificent revenge-spectacle "Don Juan,"
but, thanks be to Mozart, leaving the rest of us out of it.
The braggart ego-monster makes it hard on all his kind -- male,
with that arcane cellophane advantage --
to maintain that we refuse a back-scratching bro-hood
with a dirty fighter cum pathological liar.
Cold sober, I want to shake my middle finger in his face and display
the corrupted body of his me-first meltdown to the courtroom,
the lying tissue of his unearned reputation.
Bowing to the Ancestors
i. Muriel's Own Picture Album
Little sister Jean
sitting on the wooden steps of the back stoop
of our dear old house,
though it doesn't look very special in this picture, does it?
Jean wears glasses. A little girl!
Don't you think that's funny?
Maybe she'll grow out of them
'Going for a joyride.'
'See if you can find Patsy the cat.'
Jean on tricycle posing in Jamaica NY
Very old-fashioned marriage photograph says
‘Elizabeth Barnhardt married David Archibald Congreve’
I have so many relatives I've never met
Many of them, unfortunately, are dead
That's me, in fur.
'I lost a wonderful father today.' August 8, 1926
Man in overcoat, smiling. 'He looks happy at least.'
I am twenty years old. Old enough, I guess, to have a father who died.
Little Jean is only five.
She will never know her father,
John Griswald Congreve.
He worked hard to open his own restaurant,
Congreve Tea Room, corner of Broadway and Brewster streets
I worked there on Sundays.
People came late one afternoon
All we have left, I told them, is the pork.
They were Jewish. We'll take it, they said.
One day a man (Eric) came in and said, Is the roast beef good?
Yes, I told him. And we have potato salad, freshly made.
Is it German potato salad?
I don't see how, I said. I made it myself.
We keep the old family names.
My brothers are Griswald Hager Congreve, the older one,
and Mark Russell Congreve. Mark is funny,
but we do our best for him.
My mother, Georgina Hager Congreve
had two brothers and two sisters
She has four nieces, Florence, Clara, Ethel, Evelyn.
They are my cousins
Hager (as he calls himself) married Madeline Lauf
Here is a picture of their daughter, Jeanne-Anne
who is nine months old
I hope she gets some more hair soon
My wedding picture.
Married to Eric Dick in June 1929
He stands tall and straight on the boarding dock
when we travel by ocean liner to Germany
the next year to meet his parents
I could not speak to anyone.
Jean, little, sitting on an overturned boat
in the sand at Long Beach
along with our mother, in black beach dress
Guess Who standing behind them, with favorite scarf head-wrapped and wind-swept
My lips look so big. I didn't think they were so big.
I was thin then. Alan not born until '37
Jean, still little, in clown suit and round glasses
Guess Who again, in dark beret for traveling, standing on the wharf
Eric looking straight at the camera seated in a deck chair.
He is very dignified
Jamaica Bay June 27, 1926, holding flag leading procession
at the beach house
Dot Harold Muriel (Decoration Day) ‘Aren't we cute?’
'Do you want a light?' And old flame in a dark suit
He always dressed very nicely
Muriel in very long skirt not my best
'1924 Don't we look funny?'
Two men wide in their overcoats, two women squeezed between
‘Oh! Araby' Young man in overcoat, hat pulled low
'Long Island Sound Summer 1927'
Woman in cloche, little Jean, Uncle Fred in sailor hat, Mom (in black)
'Annie Grandmother' sitting on stoop our old house in Flushing
‘Melvin Muriel’ open coat, with buttoned vest Muriel in short fur, long skirt
On stoop, Jean and her brother 'Who is Mark looking at?
'Thanksgiving Day 1925 Jean, Mother'
(Will that girl ever grow up, she's almost five)
'Atlantic City 1925 November Muriel Syd'
'1926 Clara Meyer on the Roof' Flapper dress, cloche, fur collar,
extending bare calf and ankle in heels
So bold and laughing
Alan born August 1937
I will never be thin again.
[*’quotations’ from Muriel Congreve Dick’s photo album]
© 2018 Robert Knox
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