Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yetta's Poem

You can’t really
Blame my sister Yetta
For wanting to make
Her life better

Like the rest of us
She was born
Into the same poverty
Stricken family
That literally did
Not have a pot
To piss in

Our family was always so poor
That Yetta could not afford
Any of the little luxuries of life
That a young girl needs and desires

The small things in life
Were denied to her
Things like new clothes
And a new pair of shoes or
A proper haircut
She had no jewelry box full of
Shining baubles or
Bits of costume jewelry
To offset her
Feminine side

So Yetta rebelled
Against the petty restrictions
And constrictions
That her sickly father
And old world mother
Could still impose

Her rebellion took the form
Of dating gentiles
During her teen years
Over the objections of her parents
And siblings
Not me
I was still in diapers
Being totally ignored
By my parents
Who would leave me
In my crib for hours
Until I started screaming
And banging my head
Against the wall
In a pitiful effort
To get a little attention

Yetta was desperate
To get away from the family
And from the family’s
Dour financial condition

One day
Yetta met the man of her dreams
While sunning herself
On the beach
He was Italian American
His name was Raymond
He was a Korean War veteran
From New York’s
Lower East side

Ray was a few years her senior
And he was smitten
With the young lady
Whose good looks
Reminded some of a young
Elizabeth Taylor
Good for Yetta
Good for Ray

When Yetta announced
That she and Raymond
Were to be married
The whole family
Went into a tizzy

So serious was the situation
That my older brother Irwin
Had to fly down to Miami
To see what he could do
To talk some sense into
His younger sister

Me and my older niece Carol
Were busy playing
In the motel court yard
When Carol looked up
And noticed
That her uncle Irwin
(Who was my older brother as well)
Had come for a surprise visit

Great I thought
Maybe he was also coming
To rescue me
From my motel court yard hell
I was glad to see him and
I rushed to greet him
But he just breezed on by
Not stopping to say so much
As hello

I have no idea
What happened after
That brief encounter
Except that Yetta and Raymond
Eloped and got married
And Irwin flew back to NYC
And I was still stuck in
Motel court yard hell
For the foreseeable future

Some time prior
To Yetta’s kismet
Encounter with her
Knight in shining armor
She and my mother
Were having another one
Of their classic arguments
Over who knows what

Tell momma to go to hell
Said Yetta trying to
Win me over to her side
Tell momma to drop dead

Well I was not about
To take part in any of that
So I tried to amuse myself
By playing with a razor
That Yetta had carelessly
Left in the sink
After shaving her legs

Not thinking
I took hold of the razor
With my open hand
And two seconds later
My thumb was gushing
Buckets of blood

My mother tried to stem
The flow of blood
By applying pressure
To the open wound
But the blood
Continued to flow

I don’t want to die momma
I screamed hysterically
Petrified at the sight
Of my own blood
Filling the porcelain
Sink basin
Momma I don’t want to die

Finally the blood flow eased
And the situation was under control
And I was relieved to know
That I was not going to die after all
Or else I would not have lived
Long enough
To have been able
To have written this poem

And I have to say
That was a great relief to me

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

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