- One of these days Polish Jack
- is going to attack
- go on about the awfulness of being posted in Mumbai
- or the inequities of working in German,
- though Deutsch Vortex pays well,
- it is hell,
- but for now,
- he politely speaks
- about tennis
- and not so politely stares
- at Brown American me
- between sips.
- Even though I protest
- about my father-in-law,
- I wish the world was Mike Short.
- The neon light of appetites,
- with English politeness,
- he offers drinks and chocolates
- as incessantly as Capitalism
- asks for cash and the air we breathe.
- He is the red light district of red wine,
- doesn’t allow a moment’s breath.
- I leave the house guest,
- my in-laws, wife, and children down below
- and sneak above to unload my midday burden
- as they feast on Stewed Greengages,
- the Brits having a myriad of fruit-based goop they call dessert,
- but no matter what time of day I hit the turlet
- outside the door
- I can hear times winged chariot
- told to halt
- in my mother-in-law’s Oxford-Don marble-mouth wobbling
- as she changes my two year old Jack
- by proudly announcing every article of clothing
- coming off and on,
- and I can’t take a shit in the bathroom
- without someone standing by in it.
- A third August in a row in London,
- my wife entices me here with promises
- of in-laws happily attending to their grandchildren
- while we cavort through pubs and clubs,
- but I know I can’t compete with grand ma’ Gaggie,
- and still I must,
- if I am not to be a suspiciously lax dad
- whenever she tires of DH parenting.
- I am superfluous but not free.
So I concentrate
on cool and cloudy England as an escape
from the Campbell Soup air of New York,
New York, the city so hot it got named twice
by a bratty child who, against paternal warnings,
laid his hands
on one of its sidewalks,
- And so, my wife and I,
- papoosing and strolling our two kids,
- spend our savings on the $14.00 a day London Underground
- to the Transport Museum to see how the first subway ever was built,
- to the British Museum to see how the past was stolen from the colonies,
- and to British Music Experience to see how Black music was stolen
- from White Americans. History dies hard in Europe.
- Makes me wonder,
- is this a country or a museum?
Packingtown Review – Vol.11, Spring 2019
Carlos Hiraldo was born in NYC. He began writing poetry at seventeen, but dates his first poem to seven. To “sentir el pavo” (feel the turkey) in 1979, he convinced his divorced mother to accept the Thanksgiving invitation from his father. That meal turned out to be a disaster, discouraging him from further word flights for ten years. He currently lives and works in Astoria where he teaches at CUNY and writes with blithe disregard.