Saturday, December 12, 2009

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues

by Paul Abruzzo

Snow fell at a stairway angle. Cats crossed my path as if imbeciles on fire. Moreover, I was in Juarez. I walked straight to a hot bordello. She led me up to her room, the wood loose at my feet. I had a temperature hovering around zero. My best friend the doctor rifled through my wallet for the malaria. I was immobilized, unable to do or undo a single button on my shirt. Naturally, the police arrived. They stood around the bed brandishing nightsticks. A red light blinked in my head. A line of steady moonlight shot through the room like a fallen girder.

A festival came out of the housing project yet I barely lifted my head. The confetti was my loneliness, my memory a goosestep. Jimmy Stewart was going on hysterically in Yiddish about raising the dead from an icy river. A man in a black hat handed out cards declaring Hanukkah a time for restitution. A lone voice repeatedly called out for two hard boiled eggs. Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet. A shot glass appeared like whispered blackmail.

I went back to New York City, my voice hoarse and distant, where I was launching a new career in rectitude. An uncle on my mother’s side said he could get me in, but all he meant, it turned out, was that the joke was on me, that for the rest of my days I’d be selling electricity at the lip of an abandoned coal mine.


"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
by Ramblin' Jack Elliott, 2007.
available on I'm Not There

top photo:
by Manuel Alvarez-Bravo
El Umbral (Threshold), 1947.

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