Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Charles Rammelkamp: Poetry

Charles Rammelkamp lives in Baltimore, Maryland. He edits the online journal, The Potomac, In 2012, Time Being Books is publishing his poetry collection, “Fusen Bakudan”, about missionaries in a leper colony in Vietnam during the war.

The F-Bomb

“Mister Himmelfarb?
Karen Richards, Ben’s fourth grade teacher.”

“Hello! How are you?” I prattled,
knowing full well
she’d only call
if there were a problem.
“What’s up?
What can I do for you?”

“It’s about Ben.
He dropped the F-bomb
in class today.”

The F-bomb.  I understand
Miriam Webster now includes
that term in its dictionary.
I remembered the t-shirt
I once saw on a young man
out the window
of a Greenwich Village restaurant:

Fuck You
You Fucking

“My fault, Ms. Richards!” I apologized,
cutting her off before she could continue.
“I have no doubt
he picked it up from me.
I use the word
all the fucking time.
I’ll tell Ben
to be more discreet.
Thanks for calling, Ms. Richards.
I’m sure it will never
happen again.”

Poet Charles Rammelkamp

The Reunion

The Neocon Republican asshole,
was back at the gym this morning
after a two-week trip,
the centerpiece of which
was his wife’s fiftieth high school reunion.

“Hey, Jimbo!” I heard him calling
to another guy in the showers
while I got ready for my swim –
the gregarious loudmouth of the locker room;
but it’d been a little too quiet
while he was away, too monastic.
I like his spirit.

“Hey, Fish!” I called to him.
“How was your trip?”
A rotund guy, Fish reminds me
of Nikita Khrushchev –
a former weightlifter gone to flab,
man-breasts wagging like beagles’ ears.

“FANtastic!” Fish enthused.
“You should have seen
those sixty-eight year old grandmas
boogying on the dance floor!
Just goes to show you,
you ain’t dead until you’re dead.”  

“We’re still in that phase where we wake up, remember, wanna go back to sleep.” – Louise Erdrich, LaRose
“Your dick was always bigger than mine,
but at least I got pussy before you did,
and a lot more than you did, too.”

It’s early morning by the Kalamazoo River.
My twin brother is firing up his first pipe of the day,
the smoker’s cough he’s had for forty years
a constant punctuation,
a series of semi-colons
tearing at his sentences,
dotted scythes scissoring his lungs,
exclamation marks hammering his breath.

We’re back home for our mother’s funeral,
sixty years old only a couple months back,
a year before his cancer diagnosis.
Soon he’ll take his Hep-C injection
before  we head to the cemetery.

Who else would ever say
such intimate things to me
with such matter-of-fact reflection?
How much will I miss this
when he’s gone?

The Cherry on Top

The circuit court judge sentenced
the two men to fifty years
for shooting another man to death in a motel
where they’d gone to buy dope.

The two, named Currier and Ives,
of all things, argued about the price
the seller was asking
and the quality of the pot,
which they thought inferior.

The seller, named John McCain,
believe it or not,
lived with his wife
in this by-the-hour fleabag,
where they eked out a living
selling marijuana, amphetamines and Quaaludes.

Currier went into the bathroom with McCain,
John’s wife testified;
she heard them struggle,
then Ives went in and shot McCain
several times in the chest and head.

After fifty years, Currier and Ives
would be in their eighties,
but the judge added ten more
for the armed robbery, and another five
for a handgun violation.

The Happiest Day of My Life

He’s the only man I ever slept with,
not surprising since I was fifteen
when I met Scott,
three years older than me.

We married four years after that,
set about starting a family right away –
Jimmy and Jess both grown and on their own now,
Jess with a husband of her own.

We’d been planning our silver anniversary
when I found that photograph,
him and a younger woman, Lisa,
she in white, a veil over her face,
him with his arms around her,
a flower in his lapel.

It all came out then,
how he’d met her six years before,
a student in his Sociology class,
how they’d married in a Methodist church.

Oh, how humiliating!
I get no satisfaction,
no sense of justice, no “closure,”
not an ounce of schadenfreude
from his being in prison the next five years.
I just look at our wedding album,
tears sliding down my nose.
It was the happiest day of my life.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific poems, especially "Grief," in its understated sense of loss.