Tuesday, January 19, 2016



When my father was dying he was visited
By Popeye the Sailor who, since they had met
In a Big Little book, had been his good friend.
To my father the true Popeye was a man
Of sensitivity and charm, all masked
By feigned inarticulate simplicity
Olive Oyl was no mere spidery-legged dame
But a muse, while Bluto had the solemn duty
Of challenging Popeye at every turn
Forcing him to exceed himself. I have no idea
What role the Sea Hag played, or if next Tuesday
Will ever come -- the day when Wimpy will repay
His debt for the hamburgers Popeye bought him.

I boarded the Toonerville Trolley,
Which meets all trains, and rode it
To my parents' burial to which I often return.
As always, my father was put in a grave
Far from the folk of Kamianka Strumilowa
Among whom he had thought to rest.
As always, my mother's ashes were with him.
How could I have forgotten that Needlenose Noonan
Had spoken a graveside eulogy, that Andy Gump
Had leaned on Smokey Stover's shoulder and wept
Or that Popeye had chased off the other pallbearers
And carried the coffin by himself?

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