Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Bob Bradshaw

Desperate, I'm Learning To Skate

on Saturday mornings
at The Follies Ice Rink.
Everyone is a blur
as I sprawl head first
into the ice.
I'm like a man looking for change
under a sofa, my chin
red from rug burns.
Two friends lift me
under the arms like cops
carrying a drunk
to a paddy wagon.
They deposit me
on the rink's
Beautiful sophomore girls
with skirts short
as cheerleaders'
are flying by.
They turn their heads
and giggle.
Too bad I can't hack
a hole in the ice
and disappear.

It's as if gravity
keeps throwing
chairs in front of me.
Down I go, skidding
like a nickel
across a frozen lake.
My buttocks kiss
the ice first.

I am practicing
for you, Leonie. You work
on Saturdays. You
don't know of gravity's
disdain for me.
But I know of your love
for the ice. And how
your love, like
a great Zamboni,
would smooth over
my deepest

Jack Kerouac Lived Next Door

His mother was sweet
and as civilized as a piano.
She was as tidy as her bric-a-brac.
A sweet old lady.
Jack moved in with her.
At night when no one
was looking.
As if he was a fugitive
from a chain gang.
The clatter of breaking dishes
wasn't plates at all
but Jack welcoming
his mother's piano
to the joys of insomnia
at 1 a.m.
My bedroom faced their house.
From 1 a.m. till sunrise
his paws tinkled and clanged out
the same tune.
I swore he was hurling
plates into a fireplace.
The song's ending like a poker
dragged across the piano keys.
Night after night
he took to the piano's stool.
Someone said it was jazz.
Jazz was as incomprehensible
to me as Zen.
At times it wasn't loud,
but more like the tinkling
of broken teeth
being rattled
in a tin
During the day he'd slip out
in sandals, his belly
well out in front of him
as if it was a wheelbarrow
he had to push.
He was off to the 7-11.
He'd come back holding
two six-packs of beer,
one in each hand
as if to keep his balance.
Then he'd disappear
into his mother's house
and into silence
until his jazz concert
of one song
would start up

Mom said Jack was a genius.
A novelist from San Francisco.

To me he was no more
than a lousy piano player,
an eccentric
who played the same instrumental
in the middle of the night,
a song of waiters dropping plates
as they bump
into busboys racing
out of the kitchen.
It was as if Jack was intent
on being as annoying
as any small boy
desperate for attention,
but unsure of how
to ask for it.

They say that the works of genius
It must be true.
Even today when I hear dishes
clattering to the floor
I think of Jack's

©2005 by Bob Bradshaw

Bob Bradshaw is a programmer living in Redwood City, California. He is a huge fan of the Rolling Stones. Recent work of his has appeared at VLQ, Poems Niederngasse, Tryst, Red River Review, and Circle Magazine.

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