Monday, August 1, 2011

Another day's stint in the free world begins here in the donut shop

The Monday Nut

Contributed from our loyal Donut Hunter, Anthony Mento, and recently featured on The Writers Almanac with Garrison Keillor, I'm honored to present to you a piece from the contemplative side of the donut world by Detroit poet, Michael Heffernan

The Art of Self-Defense

Another day's stint in the free world
begins here in the donut shop. Standing in line
wondering how many cheese Danish and apple fritters
as well as donuts I should buy, while the creamy girls
in their summer dresses are licking their profiteroles,
I see myself as a boy in the summer of 1953
salting sliced tomatoes with my grandfather
in the white shirt he wore. The kitchen was big and sweet.
The breeze from the electric fan swung by us and away.
The oilcloth on the table was cool and slick.
The leaves of the tree of heaven dappled the sill.
In line in the donut shop is a man in a straw hat
between a woman in pigtails and a boy with large eyes.
Gramps was a boxer in his younger days, semiprofessional.
He watched the Wednesday night fights on our TV.
In his last autumn he taught me to box.
He set up punching bags in his basement.
He taped newspapers to the windows. He named me Spike.
He got me to shadowbox next to the coal bin.
He kept me at it hard till it felt like forever.
When the time came, he arranged a bout
with Mike Donnelly from down the street.
Mike struck the top of my head at once and down I came.
He helped me up from the floor and went home.
I was eleven. I wasn't fast or clever. This was the autumn
after the summer they fried the Rosenbergs.
Gramps walked me down to the corner to get the Free Press.
The photograph showed their bodies on the front page.
He tugged my hand and kept me from seeing it.
We mark these solitudes throughout our lives.
This is not simply about things as they are.
This is about donuts, profiteroles, and straw hats.
Things cannot be as they are in this country.

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