Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Dapper and Portly Mr. Shimmel

The dapper and portly
Mr. Shimmel
Suddenly came
Into my life
When I was
About age 9
Me and my
Widowed mom
Were living
(If you could
Call it that)
In an old
Cold water
Tenement flat
On the wrong side
Of the tracks
At Neptune Avenue
And Ocean Parkway
(Not that there was
Ever a right side
Of the tracks
If fact there were
No tracks at all)
Just a rat infested
Slum neighborhood
That didn’t even
Have a name
Except for maybe
Slums Ville
Or skid row
We lived in
A run down
Roach and
Vermin infested
Apartment building
In a slum lord
Ruled neighborhood
That was as blighted
A place as ever existed
In urban New York
(In fact the whole
Area was scheduled
For demolition
It was called
Urban renewal
In those days
Urban renewal was
Short hand for
Poor people removal)

Even though
I was only age 9
I knew enough
To feel ashamed
Of the place
Mom and I
Called home
Mom and I were
Dirt poor
And mom always
Needed to find
Joints to live
Where the rent
Was the cheapest
So I grew up
In several of
Most marginal
Yeah you could say
That we moved around
A lot
Chased by landlords
Looking for
The last month’s rent
In fact
I went to ten
Count ‘em ten
Different schools
Before I graduated
From Mark Twain
Junior High
But I digress
As I often do

The dapper and portly
Mr. Shimmel
Showed up
At our front door
One fine day
To take my mom
To dinner
Not me and mom
Just mom
And I was supposed
To just stay home
And keep myself amused
Which I did by
Setting things on fire
Nothing fancy
Just whatever
Happened to be handy
Like Brillo soap pads
Or cockroaches
Or newspapers
I used to use
My mom’s
Hair spray aerosol
As a blow torch
Yes you could say
I had some issues
Around fire and safety
But luckily
I never
Set the joint
On fire
Or myself
For that matter
Suffice to say that
I was left home alone
A lot
As mom began
To gallivant
Around town
With her new beau
The dapper and portly
Mr. Shimmel
Did I resent
Mom leaving me alone
So that she could
Gallivant around town
(That word again)
With the dapper
And portly
Mr. Shimmel?
You bet I did!
Did I resent
The dapper and portly
Mr. Shimmel?
You bet I did!
I even had visions
Of setting him
On fire
With my mom’s
Hair net aerosol spray
But I never
Actually got around
To doing it
Fortunately for me
And fortunately
For the dapper
And portly
Man about town
Mr. Shimmel

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

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