Anyplace you will have went
Be sure you’ve packed an instrument
In case a stray creative spark
Ignites in, say, a public park
Where you can quickly seize the muse
And make her pay her tunely dues.
Though hobo folk and park-bench hoppers
Aren’t renowned as money-droppers,
Picnickers who dig your act
Might tip you big, and that’s a fact.
A quick and purty hurdy-gurdy
Concert or impromptu thirty-
Minute set on violin
Could net a hundred bucks–or ten–
Depending on the people’s taste
And on the skills with which you’re graced.
Accordionists on the street
Will rarely win if they compete
For coins and bills with ukulele
Virtuosi; still, a gaily
Of an 80s pop sensation
On a squeezebox could surprise–
And siphon funds from–island guys.
The point is, if you come prepared
To play, the music that you’ve shared
With strangers may bring compensation!
That’s the fun of Busker Nation.
I’m constantly astonished when
I’m caustically admonished in
Most disrespectful phrases
When I sing a person’s praises
And the one I’m serenading’s
Someone someone else is hating.
We’re all free to have opinions;
Only Torquemada’s minions
Punished “heresy by thought.”
It seems that’s something some forgot.
At six-foot-three I’m fairly tall
But I stopped playing basketball
In Ronald Reagan’s second term
When my right knee became infirm.
The fault was mine: I took a charge
But got there late, and when my large
Opponent’s knee hit mine side-on,
My M- and ACLs were gone.
Although I worked three jobs, I had
No health insurance, which was bad
Because my knee, no longer able,
Bore the “pre-existing” label.
No insurance plan would share
Expenses for my joint’s repair
So, 24 years later now,
If I turn right too fast, well, ow.
The ruptured disks and racing heart
Came later; I’d feel pretty smart
If I had planned to keep them hid
‘Til I was covered, as I did,
Because without my Kaiser plan
I’d be shorter, sadder man
Without a hope–until today–
Of ever finding means to pay
For surgery and medication
In this pre-PPACA nation.
My beat-skipping heart is glad
My kids won’t need the luck I had,
‘Cause Justice Roberts weighed the facts
And ruled the mandate is a tax.
The weather from now until August 15
Is determined by that which today you’ve just seen
Assuming, that is, that conditions at your house
Are ruled by the whims of the Edible Dormouse
Canadians today consulted
Calendars, then took up oars.*
Americans who’d been insulted
Shrugged, then ate dessert indoors.
It’s National Canoe Day (Journée
Nationale canot) up north;
Forgiveness/Chocolate Pudding Day
Down here. (This portion is my fourth.)
*Technically, they’re paddles;
Oars are similar, but not the same.
On Pudding Day, they’re giant spoons
And any other use is lame!
5:50 a.m.: We’re approaching the end
Of the first thousand yards of the workout a “friend”
Conjured up for a Monday. Just 45 more
Hundreds left (it’s a good thing I wasn’t warned, or
I just might have “forgotten” to set the alarm).
We swim back, forth and back like three plows on a farm
Or like shuttlecocks on a great chlorine-soaked loom
Weaving wall-to-wall patterns of pain in the room.
The pace remains fixed while the distance diminishes
Meaning less rest as each interval finishes:
The minute or so between nine- and eight-hundred
Will shrink to ten seconds between two- and one-. Dread
Sets in as fatigue turns my arms to wet pasta:
Skipped breakfast this morning, huh? That’s gonna cost ya’!
The digital clock passes one hour twenty…
We made it! A cool-down? No, thanks. I’ve done plenty.
That’s five thousand five hundred yards in one set.
Not that much for some, maybe, but it’s my best yet!
Come October ’13 a full mile offshore
Out in Kailua-Kona: That’s what it’s all for!
Clenching a pipe in his teeth with one hand
The inspector strode in with an air of command.
The drawing room window stood open; a draft
Moved Dame Abigail’s beard, and a serving girl laughed.
“You’re probably wondering why you’ve been summoned,”
Began the inspector. “My name is McDrummond,
And I’m here about…murder!” He surveyed the scene.
All the guests were assembled along with the servants.
McDrummond, with characteristic observance
Of every detail, counted two in the room:
He himself, plus the girl, who stood clutching a broom.
“Hey, that’s mine!” cried McDrummond. “Let go! I must sweep!”
“Very good, sir,” she curtsied and fell fast asleep.
Harrumphing, he polished the ivory handle
With Dame Abby’s beard and the wax from a candle
He’d lighted with flame from the pipe in his teeth,
Revealing the filigreed legend beneath
The thick grime on the broomstick: J’ai besoin chaussettes.
“Ah, mon dieu!” The inspector could never forget
That he didn’t speak French, so he spat on the clue
And obscured it with dirt from the sole of his shoe.
“The murderer must be–” He paused for effect
As his eyes (and some spit) landed on the suspect
Who lay snoring upon the upholstered divan
In that insolent way only serving girls can–
“Apprehended!” He snatched up his teeth and the pipe,
Stuffed them both in his mouth, gave his shoetop a wipe
With the beard as he slipped them each over his sock,
Grabbed the girl by the waist and climbed into the clock.
The seven-foot timepiece was tolling the hour
Of midnight. “I wish I had taken a shower,”
McDrummond was carving inside the clock door
When it opened; they tumbled out onto the floor
In an untidy, most un-inspectorly heap.
“J’accuse!” said the girl, who then fell back asleep.
The inspector regarded the servant with doubt,
Pulled the beard from his shoe, sneezed, and showed himself out.