Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Laughing Fat Lady

If you were born and raised
In Coney Island
During the Fifties
You were sure
To encounter
The Laughing Fat Lady
In the fortune teller’s booth at the
Astroland Amusement Park
In the alleyway
Penny Arcade
The Cyclone and
The Thunderbolt
And no matter where
You might be standing
In Coney Island
Whether strolling on the
Boardwalk or if you were
Eating a hot dog at
Nathan's Famous or
Whether you were
Riding the magnificent and
Indeed wondrous
Wonder Wheel
You would always
Be within earshot of her
Raucous and hideous
Peels of laughter

This rotund mechanical
Bogus gypsy fortune teller
Was famous for being
Morbidly obese
Long before being
Morbidly obese
Became totally cool

All you had to do
Was to deposit
A big fat silver nickel
Into her slot
And the fat lady
Would instantly begin to
Laugh and laugh
And laugh and laugh
Until her whole voluptuous
Fat body began to
Rattle and
While the rolls of her fat belly
Would shake up and down
And she had to hold her sides
Because the belly laughing
Seemed to hurt her so much
Because she was laughing
So hard
(At you? At me?)

The fat gypsy lady
Would laugh so hard
That the whole damned
Mechanical booth
Would begin to dance and shake
And dance and shake
Some more
Until she either had you
Laughing as uncontrollably
As she was or else
You ended up
Hating her for being
So damned fat and
So damned obtuse
And for laughing
So hard and so much
Over absolutely nothing

(Or maybe she was laughing
So hard because
The joke was on you
The natural born sucker
Who got suckered into
Paying the fake fat lady
A silver nickel
Just to get a postage sized
Ticket with a phony fortune
Predicting this or that
About your future
Your love life
Or a hundred other
Nonsensical things
Such as can be found
In every Chinese
Fortune cookie
Except that this fat lady
Wasn’t handing out
Shrimp rolls or
Egg Drop Soup)

And all you ever got
In exchange
For your hard
To come by
Silver nickels
Was to hear
The fat lady
Laugh her stupid and
Yet ever so
While she jiggled
Her big fat belly
In your filthy
Sticky and
Candy apple smeared

I tell you
There were days
When I wanted to
Strangle that
Fat assed
Mechanical witch
So annoying
And mocking
And sinister
Had her
Deliciously evil
Yet bizarrely
Non stop laughing
Ultimately become

There were days
(And nights too!)
When I could hear
The fat lady’s
Incessant and
Murderous laughter
Drifting to my ears
On the warm
Summer breeze
That drifted
Through the
Open bedroom windows
Of my high rise
Brighton Beach apartment
Overlooking the boardwalk
And the world famous
Coney Island
Parachute Jump

I swear
I could always
Hear the
Hideous peels
Of her laughter
Even above
The cacophonic
Tumult of
All the hurley gurley
Mechanical music machines
Of all the Coney Island
As they
Spun and whirled
In all their
Mardi gras finery
Gaily and madly
Festooned and
Aglow and
Ablaze with all their
Gaudiest strings of
Multi colored and
Psychedelic neon lights
While the painted wooden
And lions
And tigers
Would rise and
And rise and fall
Over and over again
Faster and faster
Spinning like
Out of control
Flying saucers

Like all of the spinning
And bewitched
Pin wheel galaxies
That light up the
South Brooklyn
Summer skies
Like the Tuesday night
Summer fireworks
That sounded as if
The D-Day
Normandy Beach Invasion
Had suddenly
Come to Brighton Beach
Boom! Boom!
Over the endless
Peels of
Riotous yet
Meaningless laughter!

All of that
For the price
Of one single
Silver nickel
With enough
Pocket change
Left over
For a nedick’s
Orange soda
And a couple of
Nathan’s hot dogs
With a sack of
Perfectly salted
French fries
To go

So go ahead
Fat lady
And laugh
Your disgustingly seductive
And endlessly irritating
Fat lady laugh
Just like
In your own gum tree
(And merry
Merry queen
Of the bush
Will you be!)

So please
Miss fat lady
In your  fake mechanical
Fortune teller’s booth
Please do
Go ahead
Once more
As I slide my
Hard to come by
Single nickel
Through the slot
In your always
Open door

And laugh
Your fat lady laugh
Just one more time
(For old time’s sake
If for nothing more!)
And this time
(Miss fake gypsy fat lady
In your fake mechanical
Phony fortune teller’s booth!)
Could you please
This one last time
Do it!
Do it!

Can you finally
See me now?
You have finally
Brought me to my knees and
I am begging you now!
So please
Go ahead and do your thing!
But this one time only
Please do it just for me!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

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