Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Iron Jew (for Rodney)

The Iron Jew
steps into the ring,
tuxedo shirt
and bulging eyes
and craggy features,
sweat from his fore head
nervousness in his twitch,
he is a mountain
with punchlines
at his 1970s
new York nightclub.

Standing in the spotlight,
gauzed in cigarette smoke,
he delivers
line after line after line,
each one more powerful
than its brother before.

Cynics, skeptics and
each come up and
each is knocked down,
but the sheer gravitas
and invention of this
survivor and his
world-weary shield.

He leaves the stage,
undoes the bow tie
slumps in the dressing room chair,
lights up a joint,
and waits for the next

Scene change:
Thirty years later
on the other side
of America,
I come home
wrung out and hope spent
I go to the garage,
fire up my pipe
and queue up Rodney Dangerfield
on the Johnny Carson show
via YouTube
puff puff laugh
puff puff laugh
and his attack begins:
decades melt as
and he hits,
each hit perfect,
and I begin my surrender:
sides aching,
he punches,
I’m sucking for breath,
 he punches,
throws a three joke combo
with a topper
and I’m almost doubled over in pain,
joyful and liberating.

I have lost myself
and my worries
for a moment,
and I am grateful
as I catch my breath
and marvel that
the Iron Jew
has won again!