Poetry by Mary M. Schmidt

August 4th, 2010









Ralph Kramden pushes through his day
Like the Madison Avenue bus
At the height of evening rush,
Impeded by vehicles
Of lesser size, strength
And importance.

“Moron!” he bellows
As he leans out the window,
“What are ya tryin’na do?”
By the end of his shift
His uniform is soaked with sweat,
His eyes are bulging,
His face is red.

In Ralph’s castle,
Where he is king,
The window is open
As far as it will go,
And there is still no fresh air.
The scent of Chinese food cooking
Drifts up from below,
With shouts of children
Playing stickball. Someone’s
Playing scales on the trombone.
A vacuum cleaner pounds against a wall.
The plumbing moans,
As if in pleasure or pain.
His majesty enters
To the applause of unseen subjects.

Ralph leans out to the fire escape
And calls up to a kindred soul:
“Hey, Norton! We’re goin’ bowlin’ tonight!”

And on that night,
As I walked around the block with Trixie,
Just to get out of the heat,
I thought I saw Ralph’s face in the moon.
There’s no privacy in this building,
A mouth the size of Ralph’s makes it tremble.
He’s said he’d send me to the moon,
One of these days, always one of these days,
So many times, but never right now.

Because if he did, I’d never come back.
I’d leave behind a breach
Bigger than Ralph’s mouth, Ralph’s pants,
Ralph’s bus. Ralph could never fill it
Even with the loudest of shouts, and
Ralph knows it all too well.

We watched the moon rise, Trixie and I.
Nothing stood in its way as it shed its light
All over the alleys and tenements,
No need to shout.

© 1993, 2007 lynxtales


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