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The Gypsy's Address

“Oh, well!” summed up the Empress in confirmation, then took a sip from the vodka soda Makin’ had handed her with a lace-bordered napkin.

 

BB frowned, cocked his head to scratch it, thought he might as well have had a few with his count that bad.

 

“Hmm,” Alice softly spoke to herself: “Bichon frise. You don’t say. A subtle way another thing convey,” tapping her fingers on the tabletop. She looked up at her black cat, wearing a little hat, beneath which its eyes glowed back from atop a dresser across the room.

 

“Your turn, whelp, with the brain of kelp,” BB assigned, which could only be the Kidd.

 

“You think?” the Kidd stepping forward with a seemingly ever-present grin, yet juggling two stones:

 

“There was once a bad market for buyers

As stockbrokers scrambled to purchase shares

Of a company once owned by friars

Who were supposed to be living on pears.

‘Long with the Church they’d become suppliers

Of concrete hats, concrete spoons, concrete chairs.

One moron loved so provincial the weight,

Spent his savings on rough and smooth finish.

A genius in his head – not else wise great –

Said, ‘No way! Our money will diminish!’

He ignored, with all we had bit the bait,

‘Til no concrete plate was left for spinach.

   Now morons keep their minds off ambition,

   Alice’s glare far worse than perdition.”

 

All waited, the Kidd confidently juggling his rocks. As no one had noticed any fault he gave a slight smile, then nimbly stepped back between Penny and Strange.

 

“Thank you, Kidd, for the glove,” was heard Alice’s voice from above.

 

“A puny sword by one easily bored,” BB said to himself, reaching out of habit for the scotch bottle, then catching himself.

 

“Your turn, Empress. Tell a truth plenteous,” the Kidd encouraged.

 

“I warn you be courteous,” Alice whispered to herself. The Empress scratched her head with her scepter, then said:

 

“I once had to go on a magpie hunt,

This cage so full of them – a real shocker.

To tell the truth, if I may be so blunt,

She herself hadn’t noticed one squawker,

Although I counted four thousand and eight

Nesting by her own determination.

Once one landed in my hair I was plait-

Ing I had no choice but bird deflation.

All the dead squirrels in this lunatic house

Meant a big trap I could set with bird bait.

Once with magpie full, no room for a mouse,

I lit a match after shutting the gate.

   Blowing smoke through her ears, she coughed, ‘How dare!’

   But not one fowl survived to muss my hair.”

 

The Kidd chuckled as Penny and Strange traded frowns, shrugging their shoulders.

 

“I’m not so certain it is permissible to carry a word from one line to the next,” Alice stated. She knew perfectly well that this had been done by a few great poets. But she wasn’t about to let the Empress get away with this latest knuckle to her ribs.

 

“You know better than that, Alice,” BB replied.

 

“I’ve seen it done,” said the Kidd.

 

“So have I,” added Penny.

 

“Myself as well,” continued Strange.

 

The Punc had read a few sonnets but had since forgotten – with a will. Makin’ had no clue. Alias barked to the affirmative, making it an undeniable majority who found it acceptable for the Empress to split a word between two lines. But it was Cuddly’s decision. All waited several seconds to hear his determination. . .

 

“Well-done.”

 

The Punc, jerked erect, amazed. He had finally witnessed some portion of why he’d been chasing that fat little piggy bank. Makin’, of course, missed the significance of a speaking pig, thinking nothing of it. For nothing could dawn through her notion that pigs were simply a good meal if they were big enough.

 

Quite pleased that her sonnet had passed, as she was certain it would, the Empress peeked in her mirror and chose Makin’: “Show us, giant, if you’ve an intelligence of such significance as to invest in it any confidence.”

 

“Would you like to hear a knock knock joke?” the jester asked the Empress.

 

“Sure,” popping another bonbon into her mouth.

 

“Knock. Knock,” his knuckles on her Makin’-polished table.

 

“Who’s there?”

 

“The bich . . . on frise whose lobe you probe,” Alice whispered to herself, then interrupted the jester with a strike back at the Empress for her less than complimentary poem, zapping her mirror from her hand with a sudden burst of lightning. The mirror fell and shattered.

 

The Empress, however, was not the least ruffled: “Makin’, another mirror, please, so we can watch that giant who looks so much like you recite a poem. Bring a broom.”

 

“Whatever,” Makin’s twin spoke to herself, bobbing her head to indicate weariness with her job.

 

Makin’ rattled her eight-foot chain, swaying back and forth on her feet to brace, still wearing her headgear, her cones poking outward from her ears. She’d never read a sonnet. But she could count, and had listened carefully to those who had gone before. She could, in fact, be unusually smart amidst a general inability to keep track of it all. Kind of like harnessing dogs to a sled, then discovering somewhere along the way that you’d forgotten one or, in Makin’s case, two. Which doesn’t mean you can’t be, otherwise, one hell of a musher.

 

“The day they buried Something with her pig

They powdered her face, threw both in a lake.

Her hog didn’t like such liquids to swig,

Glubbing grunt bubbles as water did take.

While Strange for some fish made dismal display

Swine swam to the surface, paddled toward shore.

But too bad – a mirage got in the way.

‘Move aside!’ Swine oinked. But the charm forbore.

‘Comprende? You deaf?’ squealed my cud to be.

‘I’ve got a lake to shake and you play dumb!’

The spell fin’lly said, ‘Pigs less loud than thee

Have not a few times before this way swum.

   If ask less snortly I’ll show you where’s sand.’

   Swine did, but too late, and drowned off Greenland.”

 

All stood smiling at Makin’ whose heroic effort of a poem had only one flaw. She waited, shifting her feet, tossing back her head: “What?”

 

“Cuddly is the judge,” Penny answered softly, hanging his head to hide his chuckle.

 

“Yeah? So?” squaring her shoulders, shaking her chain, until it dawned: “Oh.”

 

“Well, you big dip?” the Punctuator impatiently addressed her. “Appoint someone to follow your pile of ash.” He was getting weary of this silly poetry competition which he suffered due only to the BB’s ability to bring down lightning out of the skies. Otherwise the ray gun he held at his leg could easily decide whose pig Cuddly was.

 

“Let’s see if Old Penny, a name to despise every letter, can give an address one letter better,” Makin’ glared, shaking her chain. Penny stepped forward, tapped his blade at his thigh while keeping his eye on the Punc. Clearing his throat:

 

“I imagine a mailman’s planting way

‘Midst a cornucopia of boxes.

It appeared one of life’s paradoxes

That address to address yet went astray.

He had traveled to the world of Bombay.

He had veered home amidst Arctic foxes.

He’d lost count of all the equinoxes

By the time he nigh found her in Marseilles.

Delivering to addresses random

Was, though eventful, not yet eventful.

Had he missed the address already come?

Had he found her, only not yet sent-full,

   Such that he routed his address quite dumb,

   Addresses already sewn, soiled, meant-full?”

 

All remained quiet several seconds to ponder Penny’s sonnet. Strange wiped her eye with her wrist as she hung her head, hiding from Penny to the Kidd’s other side. She had been to the worlds of Bombay, Marseilles and Arctic foxes with Penny.  Makin’s double handed the Empress a tissue, with which she dabbed a tear-full eye. The Empress had sensed Penny’s sonnet was a subtle romance, and love poems made her cry.

 

“You wanna hear a Pollock joke?” asked the jester.

 

“No!” the Empress wept.

 

“Phphphph!” Makin’ imitated a fart, breaching the regardful silence.

 

“You can keep that maudlin address,” spoke the Punc. “Too much schmuck does it possess.”

 

“I think it’s a success,” said both BB and Alice to themselves, each at the same time. Then aloud the Kidd said just the same, such that between the three worked a rhyme.

 

“Let Something go next,” suggested Penny. Something wiped a tear from her other eye with a finger, took a deep breath, stepped forward with the tail of her whip slithering behind her, shoveled the earth a little with the toe of her boot, placed a hand in the rear pocket of her jeans:

 

“There’s a notion needing relaxation,

That an address to a home needs belong.

Either may remark a destination,

Yet to say we’re not arrived would be wrong.

One might plant one’s tree like punctuation

And, thereat, nest and perch and sound one’s song.

‘Here I am’ sings that tree at its station,

Rising outward in identity strong –

The address missing of secret evil.

Root me not in unmoving fixations:

Knowledge, who and what I am, a weevil

In some flour of airless expectations.

   Does Kia some address endure as home?

   Seems to me his proper home has no dome.”

 

Strange spoke her last line pointing up at us, flying amidst the memories traced into the boulders floating through BB’s head.

 

“Well, I’ll be a letter not to possess because it was sent to the wrong address,” said Alice, glancing up at her cat. “There’s a brain beneath that cowboy hat.”

 

“Well, I’ll be the what’s what of a what’s not, that is to say, whatever whats which that what hasn’t got,” regarded BB.

 

“Well, I’ll be preposterous, since what isn’t is but tedious, therefore superfluous. Great poem,” the Kidd complimented.

 

Alias barked while Penny, grinning with the Kidd, gave Strange a wink and an ‘OK’ signal with his thumb and index finger. Something bowed her head in acknowledgement, then smiled at the Punc: “That leaves the Punc to steer at the stern.”

 

The Punc was in a fix as he held his laser in both hands before his torso. Penny kept a wary eye one him, ready to use his drawn knife at any instant. The Kidd meanwhile juggled his nice round stones, pretending to be a fool who heard no threat in the rattling of Makin’s chain now and then. The Punc had dipped into some Shakespeare and Millay years ago. He was an autodidact far from ignorant in a number of disciplines, economics and sciences especially, believing such could be an advantage to a career of crime. Albeit he preferred being clever to intelligent he rightly determined poetry to have no practical use and discarded it. Neither had he paid attention as the others recited, correctly estimating this poetry competition to be a lot of nonsense. The Punc was considerably more anxious to make three erasures with his ray gun, those three who stood before him, reciting verses like the dimwits he knew poets to invariably be. Having finally seen something of what he’d read when he stole Cuddly he had to have that pig as not before, which he wasn’t going to accomplish with a sonnet. So he’d go ahead and play, to spite the sonnet form with a Chuck Berry melody, the better to express himself defiantly:

 

“Lurking around like a shish kebob,

My partner beside me, a corn on the cob.

We stole a purse from a helpless old torte,

Then forged eighty checks for a year’s support,

During which crime we were forced to pursue,

With no particular thing to do.

 

Sneaking around like a shish kebob,

I couldn’t help it, so many to rob.

We threatened potatoes wobbling by.

We took their money, then left them to die.

We assaulted steaks at a barbecue,

With no particular thing to do.

 

No particular thing to do,

My partner arrested, me almost, too.

She’s still doing time. She rots in a cage.

Meanwhile on carrots I take out my rage.

The last one was tough, though – I came unskewed.

All over my hideout I rolled unglued.

 

Now banks and mansions I burgle in parts,

Mayhem and mischief the chief of my arts.

We’re a bit absentminded, though, because

We’ve no idea what the rest of us does.

But I’ll bet, like mine, their murders aren’t few,

With no particular thing to do.”

 

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