Milton P. Ehrlich
The Woman in a Negligee
wears an elegant outfit,
decolletage, with a thigh-high split.
I’m almost 17, making a delivery
during the war for a local drug store.
She pays me with a big fat tip,
invites me in for a yummy taste
of blueberry pie she’s just baked.
She tells me her back is in pain--
do I have time to give her a back rub?
Her stereo is ablaze with the vibrato
of Edith Piaf while she offers me
a sip of homemade wine, brewed
by her husband before he left.
I sit on her sofa and wonder:
Is this a fantasy I’ve had on my delivery route?
Are we both phantoms in a mutual dream?
We both seem to savor the mystery
of the perfect moment—no dialogue necessary.
My body and soul is willing
in more ways then I care to say.
It’s the very best blueberry pie
I’ve ever tasted, before or since.
Mussolini Loved a Jewess
Margherita Sarfatti— erudite Jewish paramour,
helped Mussolini write a fascist manifesto.
He had an enormous appetite,
wanting to make the darkness
of his time new again, but got lost
in delusions about the grandeur of Rome.
HererHERHerHH brilliant intellect
and aesthetic sensibility
made him look like a hairy ape
chasing for stars he could never reach.
Margherita finally gave up
trying to convince him--
the worst evil only happens
by those who think they know
what they are doing.
Always the bully,
thrown out of school as a kid
for stabbing a classmate,
Mussolini forged ahead
like a blind matador,
partnering with Hitler
and Franco, always reserving
a Christian chair for the Pope.
Margherita had to run for her life.
Ezra Pound thrived on anti-semitism
and volunteered to help Mussolini
until he was locked away for treason.
Mussolini left screaming ghosts in his wake,
and sloshes of blood on his fat peasant hands.
The crunch of gravel on the circular driveway
startled her as we drove up to the front door.
All she would say is “no, no, no, no, no, no, no,”
as if her head was about to be placed under a guillotine.
She had once been a ruby-red jewel of the Nile,
whose pendulous breasts overflowed
like a sister of Assisi for all she embraced.
She was a radiant North Star of the firmament,
here on earth, a stolid caretaker, guaranteeing,
whatever it is, will be taken care of.
Cerebral insults to her brain left her wordless,
flailing her arms and stomping her feet
like a tantrumy-toddler, unable to get the gist
of her family’s concern.
When she went shopping, she couldn’t find her
way back, wandering streets like a lost child.
Her checkbook was scrambled, a bouncing
mish-mash of generous checks to all who asked.
Her octogenarian body was delicately balanced
on the verge of a diabetic-coma collapse,
as she slurped Del Monte’s tropical fruit salad,
and devoured her favorite key-lime chiffon pie.
She was blissfully blind when her colostomy
bag was full and didn’t seem to mind piddling
a stream down her legs into her shoes.
When the nurse calmed her down, soothing her fears
about what to expect, she asked for a pen and wrote on a pad:
We walked out the door awash in tears, unable to drown
out parting words from a lady who never cursed
once in her life: “Bastard, bastard, bastard!,”
wall we could hear as we drove off not knowing
we were letting go, as she was destined to not last a week.
Driving Under the Speed Limit
I drive in the slow lane--
and see whirling red flashing lights
behind me; I grow nauseous with dread.
License and registration?
I reach in my glove compartment,
grab a bunch of lollypops
and a pair of toy Glock guns.
The cop calls for back up.
My hands are cuffed behind my back--
he reads me my Miranda rights.
You look too old to be driving!
How come your ears are so big
and your nose is the size
of an elephant’s trunk?
I have to take you downtown.
I stomp my feet and trumpet
like an elephant that’s lost his mate.