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.
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.