Firstfruits and the Way We Hoped We Were

Current to Ellis Island rough, so unchanged,
why did I never touch bottom?
The Irish potato famine claimed only a million lives,
never exploded in rebellion, Victoria saw many ragged people,
but it never got me…seditiously when starvation began, I
sat on a crate one dreary morning, listened to Patrick Kennedy
when he said, “lads…they had a revolution over there,
overthrew & canned old orders of society, pickled robber barons &
knights like green tomatoes, midnight never knocks on doors,
no hunger, no fat-Popes, a crucified God willed new starts,
women give birth in truth, no tax, no permits required, He wanted
better kinds of freshfruits, creatures not found on supermarket shelves,
it’s better over there, they will loan money…
you best make a choice son while there’s time.”

I departed Krakow coal-fields with a friend suffering tuberculosis,
sat beside Rudolph in the belly of ocean liner Santa Patrice –
waves were troubled, we rocked side-to-side,
I pleaded with him to stop coughing, at least use
Kleenex until we reached faraway Myrtle Beach –
Rudolph would get government health care there, job training,
he could sing Die Lorelei again in hot showers, sell Hohenzollern souls
for five bucks if he wanted, get wounded in barren Yemen,
turn spoiled-patriot like Avigdor Lieberman.

Rudolph had bad headaches, a high fever —
thought he’s back on the Russian Front with Marxist Tito,
“1905 War with Japan backfired,” he rambled, “the Surge worked
like Cheney promised it would work,” so many awful things,
Oklahoma City, Waco, white-powder threat in Punxatawney,
cotton balls dying in Alabama, Governor Wallace saw tragedy coming,
dismal “coloreds” getting scholarships, a shot in Laurel Mall,
tailbacks run for Crimson Tide end-zones, green with lichens.

All went well, Tastykakes & grits for breakfast,
Corn-fruit become first-fuel, cotton gins turned Wal Mart profit,
a Baghdad shoe become weapon aimed at broccoli President,
a murder for cider outside my door, a revered Christ warned,
“the Mormons are coming,” I needed hope & plum-change,
threatened Rudolph to either drink Robitussin or else I’d kill him,
bee pollen crossed Memorial Bridge, eternal flame nibbled & trimmed,
perhaps I would to pick blueberries off nearby bushes, re-tool?
it was a crooked shamrock procession home, and I’m getting there.

Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pa. He can be reached at: . Read other articles by Charles.