Bart Edelman ~ Five Poems

What If?

What if what you thought you saw
Had not even occurred?
As though there was a mag­ic act—
Some sleight of hand at work—
To deem you an accomplice,
But you nev­er remote­ly knew
Why the plan was devised for you.

What if they took you on a ride
In a car with­out wheels,
And you thought you were racing
At top speed down the boulevard;
However, you were sim­ply asleep,
While they filmed a documentary
Where you sat, parked in neutral.

What if the orange you ate,
Suddenly became a pear, just for spite,
And you were left clutching
A bag full of green apples
You could ill afford to purchase.
Who would expect payment
On any giv­en Sunday—
Let alone the first Monday of the month.

What if a tie went to the runner,
Yet the pitch­er had some­thing else in mind—
Say, Hey, an over-the-shoul­der catch
From 425 feet straight away.
Now that would make you think twice,
Before you put your­self in position
To play the game over again.


Joe Doe

Here’s our review on case 5117115…
We can­not arrive at a prop­er prognosis,
When the patient refus­es to engage
In any ther­a­peu­tic practices
Necessary in his steps towards progress.
If not addressed, almost immediately,
We must con­sid­er sus­pend­ing treatment
Already admin­is­tered to Mr. Joe Doe,
As he appears unwill­ing or unable
To know what’s in his best interest.

A com­plete his­to­ry would be beneficial;
However, Mr. Doe will not pro­vide it,
Leaving us some­where in the dark.
The man exhibits signs of pri­or trauma.
He has, obvi­ous­ly, been quite neglected,
But when, and by whom, remains a mystery.
Dr. Schwartz wants one last crack at him—
To see if he can make a breakthrough.
Pending that final action, though,
We sim­ply may have to let Doe go,
For his sake, and ours, of course.



The res­ur­rec­tion was not my idea.
I want­ed no part of it, at first.
But Ivan can be persuasive,
And after a few Mai Tai’s—
Followed by copi­ous amounts of beer—
I agreed to let him have his way—
Help raise Jimmy’s blessed soul,
Up through the stratosphere;
Then, the dear boy was on his own.

We planned the prank for a week,
Carefully mak­ing sure, of course,
Jimmy was on ice, as they say,
And avail­able for the big event.
He died, after a pro­longed illness—
His pass­ing, in fact, a blessing.
We didn’t want to star­tle his wid­ow, Babs,
With the plan we had in store,
Just hop­ing she’d be fine,
Keeping to the orig­i­nal funer­al date,
So we could claim Jimmy, early,
Avoiding the more tra­di­tion­al send-off.

Ivan enlist­ed Leo to engineer
The mechan­i­cal aspects of flight,
Once we launched Jimmy from Sophie’s roof—
A bar where he had great success,
And quite a bit of notoriety.
I let the boys dis­cuss aero­nau­ti­cal details,
As well as the launch­ing technique.
I knew, full well, or hoped,
Jimmy wouldn’t need to experience
The fire’s thrust beneath him,
Catapulting him to touch the face of God.
But who can be absolute­ly certain?

Hours before our celebration,
I had fierce dreams through­out the night.
However, I attrib­uted them all
To a severe case of the willies.
When dawn broke, the next morning,
I was sur­prised to find the police knocking,
Rather loud­ly, on my front door.
Seems Ivan’s errat­ic wife, Mabel,
Found a copy of our plans, in a desk drawer,
And threat­ened him with a divorce
She’d been con­sid­er­ing for the past year.

Needless to say, Ivan spilled the beans.
Immediately, Mabel phoned Babs.
Babs, in turn, con­tact­ed the police, hysterical,
And, voila, our mis­sion was foiled,
Before we could send dear Jimmy skyward.
Luckily, we were nev­er charged, criminally,
Because we hadn’t ful­filled the act,
We bought all the prod­ucts legally,
And, thank God, Ivan’s cousin, Ernie,
Still was a lieu­tenant on the force—
Who vouched for each of us—
A kind and con­sid­er­ate mea­sure, indeed.

Babs, on the oth­er hand, was not as gracious.
She nev­er quite treat­ed us the same, again.
I gath­er, though, she had her reasons.


Someone Like Godot

I, too, have been waiting—
For some­one like Godot—
Or a fel­low who looks similar,
Despite my lack of awareness,
Concerning who he must real­ly be.
Listen, it just appears obvious—
If you’re tak­ing your chances—
To err on Providence’s side,
Until you know any better.
And, even then, I imagine,
It could be too late to change
What is your ulti­mate fate—
Wherever direc­tion you’re headed.

Perhaps, it’s the aim­less who succeed,
Without a rud­der in the water.
They cast no net to speak of,
Relying only upon a vision—
A whim, if you will—
Simply put, the choice one makes,
When noth­ing cer­tain remains.
It’s as good a place as any
To hang the over­sized hat you wear,
Keeping the rain at bay.
Yes, I’ll place my mon­ey on Godot;
He seems rather harmless—
Ready for the task at hand.


Walter White and the Five Dwarfs

Sneezy died, in the thick of winter;
It wasn’t total­ly unexpected.
He’d been sick a long time
Before pneu­mo­nia struck him down—
On Christmas Eve, of all days.

Sleepy, to the con­trary, was nev­er ill
A sin­gle day in his life—
The pic­ture of per­fect health.
He just failed to wake up
One Sunday morn­ing in May,
Prior to church services,
And was gone, lick­i­ty split.

Walter White tightroped the Grim Reaper,
Escaping rather dazed and confused,
After his exis­ten­tial brush with death,
Awaking near a cot­tage, deep in the forest—
So much for astral projection.

The remain­ing dwarfs wor­shipped Walter.
He was humor­ous, debonair, and urbane,
Traveling roman­tic places unknown to them.
Only Doc had seri­ous concerns,
But he kept them to himself.

Dopey, Happy, Bashful, and Grumpy,
Still worked, min­ing for gemstones—
And hadn’t a clue what Walter did,
While they were out mak­ing ends meet.
Any men­tion of the fair Snow was verboten.
She had run off with a tall hunter
And couldn’t be both­ered with small details.

Walter, though, was busy cook­ing up
A plan to return to his true calling.
He cre­at­ed a lab in a remote shed,
Secretly stor­ing his prod­uct for years,
Confessing only to Dopey in a moment of pity,
When the beard­less mute needed
A pick-me-up to sur­vive severe loneliness.

Yes, on it went, quite swimmingly,
Until Walter got a yen for the big city—
Let’s sim­ply call it Albuquerque—
And dis­ap­peared in an unmarked van
He had dis­guised as a container.

The dwarfs were so deserved­ly depressed,
They decid­ed to rename themselves:
Rock, Slappy, Brashful, Dumpy, and Mopey.
But it couldn’t cure a hideous malaise,
And they even­tu­al­ly went to their graves
Without the affec­tion each of them craved.

Sadly, they did not live hap­pi­ly ever after—
Although they did make quite a fortune—
High rollers in the dia­mond trade.


Bart Edelman’s poet­ry col­lec­tions include Crossing the Hackensack (Prometheus Press), Under Damaris’ Dress (Lightning Publications), The Alphabet of Love (Red Hen Press), The Gentle Man (Red Hen Press), The Last Mojito (Red Hen Press), The Geographer’s Wife (Red Hen Press), and Whistling to Trick the Wind (Meadowlark Press). He has taught at Glendale College, where he edit­ed Eclipse, a lit­er­ary jour­nal, and, most recent­ly, in the MFA pro­gram at Antioch University, Los Angeles. His work has been wide­ly anthol­o­gized in text­books pub­lished by City Lights Books, Etruscan Press, Fountainhead Press, Harcourt Brace, Longman, McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Simon & Schuster, Thomson/Heinle, the University of Iowa Press, Wadsworth, and oth­ers. He lives in Pasadena, California.