from "Waiting for Ralph at the Milner Grill" - Aralee Strange

from "Waiting for Ralph at the Milner Grill"  (1992) - Aralee Strange

... Just goes to show you the power of words why you can build bridges with them if you just believe I believe I believe in love I believe in the innocence of animals I believe in dancing one two-three one two-three to a world waltz beat I believe lame Beauty could tame the beast in me but all I can say is May I have a cappuccino please? And Ralph commences jamming bandy legged and jive in another tongue Can you clap your hands (clap our hands) Can you stomp your feet (stomp our feet) Do the right words come when you need ‘em? Well drum! jump and cook a gumbo Free! all the deep down held back among you Allow it release! the one thumb piano plunk on a Sunday tambourine thumping ring around the shakey Pole who is unafraid exposed whose language transcends All do lament! another good man gone (to hell probably)  Whose slit throat bleeds Whose black skin’s unseen bruise pains deep and overwhelms and  I may be high on cheap wine and caffeine but I swear I see pale Death flying out the win­dow flying over the used car lot flying across the unbridged flood muddy river headed west. Even Death has a home. And Ralph (yet untuckered) still stalking the wild improbable However you can man do you dig it oh ain’t it dandy (and I do) in all simultaneity and with silver tongue to sing “livid and aloud” ipso facto is allowed on the open read but try as I might I am just one more white cat on the conga line dancing to another man’s drum. Am I sufficiently engaged? Does my conscience work? When the right words come crude rude and dead on will I need ‘em? I have two good ears and listen. I have two good eyes and see. I have a mind that wanders how much pull blue yonder the wild turkey’s song (strong as gravity). ... And now Ralph’s working his way out there where the sun don’t shine and if we’re lucky he’ll come back singing looking to shake things up shaking things up better watch your back when Ralph’s around better mind your poetic skew and hew a new one everytime or why bother brother for we are Us here now and they are Them there then and the question before us is not when but How do we cross over if the bridge is blown in three sections and according to plan?

An excerpt from the prose poem "Waiting for Ralph at the Milner Grill" by Aralee Strange, which appeared in Evil Dog and is dated  8-27-92. The full text is  posted online with the following note, and appeared after Aralee's passing in 2013:" .. there was a piece by Aralee that could be described as a prose poem or a non-fiction narrative. I remember hearing her read it at a literary event. Where that reading took place I can’t say, and visually I can’t recall a single detail. I still remember, though, what it sounded like when she read it—and I’ll bet that anyone who’s heard her read can imagine what it sounded like when she delivered these words."

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