Poem: Hangin’ ‘Round Rhymin’

Hangin’ ‘Round Rhymin’
by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

oodle poodle
strudel noodle
kit-and-kaboodle

Me and my niece Tammi
(heart over the i)
are sitting on a shabby couch
in her seedy living room
and she’s showing me her rhyming dictionary
specially designed for poets, says the cover

Tammi thinks I’m a poet
I’m really just an English teacher at a junior college
but Tammi doesn’t make fine distinctions
She’s fried her brain on a combination
of alcohol and pills
mostly pain killers

Boodle! Frudel!
(Tammi, are you reading that
or just making it up?)
She laughs

Tammi’s a high school drop-out
an unemployed cocktail waitress
a sometimes baby-sitter
a full-time whore

During summer vacations
I return to my roots
to where I lived
when I was a sawmill worker
then a disabled sawmill worker
and I visit Tammi

Fucking union
keeping drunks on the job
a drunk on the high log deck

Tammi’s husband Cleve has gone to the fights
He wants to see that tough kid Sanderson
raise havoc on some other kid’s skull
Tammi refused to go because the last time she went
they were sitting in the front row
and blood off a fighter’s face sprinkled her
That’s the last time, she says

Tammi cracks open another beer for me
and one for her
What’s it like teachin’ college, she asks

A lot like this, I say
hangin’ ‘round rhymin’

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