Friday, January 23, 2009

Carved Tiger & Heinz Beans

Want to tell the old lady who feeds pigeons
across the street, Stop feeding them
or else. Want to show her my car,
but she's too blind to see the permanent little etchings
& doesnt understand English.
She talks Spanish to the pigeons.

I watched The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off
on PBS after finding the pigeon scars
in my old car's brand new black paint.
I never watch shows like
The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off.
This 36-year-old man has a disease
in which his skin is so thin
anything can cause a sore.
Through the years the sores have welded his fingers
together, his toes, too.
At the end, when he was dying, in this documentary,
they show the sores in all their glory
as his mother changes his bandages.
His entire back, on this frail man's little child's body,
is one big sore.
The back of his head, one whole sore.
70 percent of his body is a sore, an open sore.
He's in such pain from changing the bandage
he is drooling and snot is running unchecked.

At one point his mother removed the bandage too fast
and he went into an agony.
They both stopped for so long a time
I thought it was a still frame.

His skin developed a rare & fatal skin cancer
on top of everything else, & he determined to live
an "extraordinary" final few months.
He flew in a glider, hosted a party,
visited 10 Downing Street, and planned his funeral.
Just say, "Thank God that old fart has gone."

This little man,
who never had puberty because of the disease,
is dying and he dies in the show and we see his funeral.

On his coffin he had them carve a tiger,
a symbol of freedom & strength,
and put a Heinz beans label on there, too,
just to get people talking about what it means.

The old woman is out there again
in the cul de sac, bent over like a 7,
feeding corn slop to what some call flying rats.
I wonder what she says to them.
I wonder if she knows them as individuals.
I'm going to go out there & try to talk
to her, about the birds, not the car.
They'll fly away when they see me coming,
but when they see she's talking to me,
they'll come back & resume.
I can see it now.
It'll be a little afternoon tableau
suggesting for the moment that everything
is all right with the world:
two neighbors are standing & talking
while birds eat corn in their shadow.

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