Didi Menendez (Illinois, USA): Two Poems


You say you are from Bellevue
although I know you really came
from Bedlam. The CIA confirmed
this. The squirrels ate all my papers
so you can't prove me wrong.
I used to share a drink with
Toulouse-Lautrec but then I
contracted syphilis and they
sent me away to the same island
with Napoleon Bonaparte.
He was such a bugger.
He used to spit when he spoke.
It was very hard to get back
on the horse when you need
to keep wiping your eyes.
Did you know my sister
was ironing her skirt last
time saw her? Don't tell?
You have a sister too?
Did you see that game last night?
DiMaggio was at his best. Wouldn't
you say the same? You are going
to have to speak louder. I am deaf
in my left ear. I went into shell shock
while in Saigon. Van Gogh lost
his ear in Viet Nam too.
He was my bunk buddy.

Lets sit down a spell.

Do you play cards? There is a good
game going on right now in the next
room. Every Tuesday. I used to play
the stock market but lost it all in 1929.
The fall was brilliant.
Did you know that right before you hit
the pavement you see everything
very clear so very clear and it feels
like everything will remain like this forever
and then everything goes black.

What about that cafeteria food. Be careful
with the jello. They put saltpeter in it.
Shh. Quiet. Quiet. You don't want anyone
hearing us do you? Stick with me kid.
I haven't had an erection since the crucifixion.
Sometimes I scratch my balls
as if they are still there.


I am a specialist in triviality
and untying knots.

I became a perfectionist
on tying my shoes at the
age of three just so I could
untie them.

In eighth grade Rosa
became zealous with
Johnson & Johnson
baby powder. She'd
take showers before
being dropped off
every morning at
St. Peter and Paul
Catholic School
by the Roads in
Miami, Florida 1973.

I needed to tell you
the exact details of the
date, time, denomination,
and location because I
mentioned earlier I was
a specialist in triviality
and untying knots.

Betty took the bus with
us to school. Her hair
was dyed blond because
her mother owned the
beauty salon off Calle Ocho.
This is important to know
because Betty had her hair
chopped ala Ziggy Stardust
when everyone was
feathering theirs.

I forgot to mention
that we are all Cuban
boys and girls whose
parents all left because
of the Revolution between
1959 and 1966.
Betty once said
to us while Rosa
was not around
that Rosa was
powdered up because
she wanted to be white.

As these words
escaped her strawberry
glossed lips
three nuns walked
past the flag pole,
three girls held their right
hand to their heart,
a pigeon landed on the
asphalt and cooed, my father
walked past the school
yard carrying my lunch
in a paper bag, boys turned
their head to the street
as a green Impala drove by,
the American flag made
sounds against the wind.

I looked down at my feet
and pulled up my navy
blue socks and noticed
the laces on my black
and white oxford shoes
had become untied.

© Didi Menendez 2008


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