kevin fitzpatrick | characters

7 12 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 177 | July 29, 2007

Characters by Kevin FitzPatrick

Aunt Duly is here wallpapering our kitchen.
She is seventy-one years old
but still paints silos and moves pianos.
If I bet her, she will touch her palms
to the floor without bending her knees.

When she first sees me, long hair and beard,
she comes down the ladder waving her brush:
“Judas Priest, Kev, when I was a girl,
they used to beat guys like you with chairs.”

She has been going up and down this last hour
as if her ladder is an escalator,
telling me about drunken gravediggers
or the grocer who wouldn’t serve lawyers.
I’m afraid she’ll slip or faint,

but she is coming down the ladder,
telling me about Barney Ruckle in the back pew
quietly mocking each bead during the rosary:
“Gimme a nickel, Mary. Gimme a nickel, Mary.
Gimme a nickel …”

Going up the ladder
because she really does have work to do,
she pauses halfway and says,
“You know, they’re all dead now,
all those characters who used to make us laugh.”

from Down on the Corner, Midwest Villages and Voices