Friday, August 6, 2010

Nobody Loses All the Time

It’s kind of like Alice’s Restaurant, you know: You can have anything you want… at Alice’s restaurant (‘ceptin’ Alice, of course)!
by Charlie Leck

Nobody loses all the time, 'ceptin' Uncle Sol, of course!

The uncle of e.e. cummings, Uncle Sol, was a born loser. I know a fellow like that. Whatever he touches turns to manure – and moldy, unusable manure at that (and there is another word I’d prefer to use rather than “manure”). I’m trying to write a short story about this guy, fictionalizing it, of course, and romanticizing it as well. Perhaps, in another few weeks I’ll have it in reading shape and I’ll share it with you (or, at least, with those of you who are interested). The story is inspired by the poem by e.e. cummings…

nobody loses all the time

i had an uncle named
Sol who was a born failure and
nearly everybody said he should have gone
into vaudeville perhaps because my Uncle Sol could
sing McCAnn He Was a Diver on Xmas Eve like Hell Itself which
may or may not account for the fact that my Uncle

Sol indulged in that possibly most inexcusable
of all to use a highfalootin phrase
luxuries that is or to
wit farming and be
it needlessly

my Uncle Sol’s farm
failed because the chickens
ate the vegetables so
my Uncle Sol had a
chicken farm till the
skunks ate the chickens when
my Uncle Sol
had a skunk farm but
the skunks caught cold and
died so
my Uncle Sol imitated the
skunks in a subtle manner

or by drowning himself in the watertank
but somebody who’d given my Uncle Sol a Victor
Victrola and records while he lived presented to
him upon the auspicious occasion of his decease a
scrumptious not to mention splendiferous funeral with
tall boys in black gloves and flowers and everything and

i remember we all cried like the Missouri
when my Uncle Sol’s coffin lurched because
somebody pressed a button
(and down went my Uncle

and started a worm farm)

As I say, I know a fellow like this and the poor schmuck can’t do anything that turns out correctly. If anything can go wrong in his life, it will. In my fictional account I call him “Sol.” His father was wildly successful and left him so much money he didn’t have to work, but he did, trying to start up new businesses; and he ended up losing everything his father gave him and the only job he could get after that was in a cemetery as one of the mowers, but he chipped gravestones and broke mower blades like crazy; so they made him a grave digger. He was terrible at his final job, but the manager of the cemetery was too kind to fire him. One day, another worker found Sol dead in the bottom of a newly dug grave that flooded in a sudden, flash storm. There was a smile on his face. He had died well.


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