Finally, Stanley X., an R.C.A. Victor
television tube production line-worker,
found a way to Tamara’s heart.
Magistrate’s daughter, she just returned home
from student teaching in Ecuador.
O Lord, how Stanley swooned while
downing shots at Legend Lounge,
he listened to Tamara’s exotic story about
canoeing in the Andes – a handsome
and muscled dark skinned guide,
the rapids, alligators at point blank,
and come July 1970, at nineteen,
the only thing Stan did well
was to shove glassware inside R.C.A.’s leer,
but he determined to anneal Tamara’s
hot passion for South American man.
End of smoky bar, sauced on Black Russians,
Lou Reed’s Shooting Star played on jukebox,
and Stan falsely testified he was veteran canoeist,
until Tamara finally succumbed,
whispered in Stan’s ear,
“Yes – I’ll canoe with you, July 4th weekend.”
Next morning, hung over and elated,
nothing ever better befallen unto Stan,
he journeyed to Scranton’s B. Dalton’s
and purchased a book, “How to Canoe.”
By supper time, Stan’s “expert” canoeist,
and no matter how faraway the Andes,
how hot to touch was R.C.A.’s leer,
Stan determined to guide Tamara down
Delaware River, paddle through thick reeds;
canoe rental fee merely $20,00 per day,
he had MasterCard, and Ecuador only had
Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress.
Stan and Tamara upon Delaware River,
canoe loaded with sandwiches, potato chips,
Stan’s pride, a football “Dream Game” jersey,
and a cold case of little Miller High Life.
Tamara sang in Spanish,
Stan stared at her red painted toe nails,
they saw a turtle perched upon a rock,
Stan drank more beer,
“you’re pretty skilled with a paddle,”
said Tamara, and Stan’s suddenly aware
he could “make it” in Ecuador…,
anywhere river flows.
Five miles down Delaware, Stan & Tamara
approached legendary Skinners Falls.
Very drunk, Stan wanted to fall upon her skin,
he did not care to cowardly disembark.
To walk around Skinners Falls would signal
he was less a sailor than the handsome Ecuadoran.
Like T.S. Eliot’s Marie,
Stan ordered Tamara to “hang on tight.”
Delaware River soon became treacherous,
droplets of water pierced Stan’s face.
Blinded, he lost control, all supplies over board,
the distressed canoe clung to a life saving rock.
Tamara lifted skyward, she prayed in English,
“Now and at the hour…,”
sun bathers upon shore cheered for Stan,
he managed to stand upright in rapids.
Like Pizarro, Stan shoved canoe down stream,
he watched Tamara momentarily disappear
beneath white water, she rose, waved good bye
as Stan’s head struck jagged rock,
“down he went,”1
he saw the Empire sun set in South America.
- Line from T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland [↩]