Monday, April 9, 2012

"Long Story"

Here we have another one of the rare poems of Arnold Schnabel not to have been first published in his local weekly neighborhood newspaper, The Olney Times. This poem -- unusual also in that Schnabel here departs from his standard sonnet form -- has previousy only appeared in Chapter 211 of his epic memoir Railroad Train to Heaven, apparently composed on the spot -- to a jazz-band accompaniment -- at the Kettle of Fish tavern on MacDougal Street, on a hot and rainy night in August of 1957.

-- Dan Leo, Associate Professor of Classics, Assistant Home-Room Coördinator, Olney Community College; Editor of An Arnold Schnabel Almanac: 365 Selected Poems (Olney Community College Press).

"Long Story"

I am not the man you think I am,
I’m not the man who stands before you;
I am not of your world or of your kind,
But I’ll do my best not to bore you.
I come from a very faraway land,
In fact it’s several galaxies away;

It’s a little world that I call my mind,
And I’d really like to go back there some day.
You see I had a slight run-in or two
With a man some call Lucifer, others Azazel,
Some Beelzebub, some Leviathan;
It doesn’t matter, he came from Hell;

And twice he did his best to drag me to
That fiery place, don’t even ask me why,
But fortunately I was smarter than
He, and both times I out-tricked the wise guy...

To cut a long story mercifully
Short, this chap I knew as Mr. Lucky
Took his revenge on me in my slumber
And I awakened one rainy morning

Transformed into a foolish character
In a novel I didn’t even like
But which I had been painfully reading
In an absurd attempt to be polite;
So, yes, I admit, I’m an impostor;
But now, standing here, I have to wonder:

Are you, my audience, mere creations
Of overheated imagination,
Or have you all been exiled here as well?
Is this life, or an anteroom of Hell?

Illustrations by konrad kraus
a rhoda penmarq studios production.

(Published in somewhat different form at flashing by.)

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