An urgent occasion prose poem
by Ray Federman and George Chambers


So the boys are now in Krakow trying desperately to find the reclusive poetess Wislawa Szymborska to ring her up and announce to her that two of her greatest fans have shuffled all the way from Bumsville, as it were, and wish to chat with her, to take her to lunch and a ride on the ferry (if there is one in Krakow).

The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations, is the bums' favorite line, a line we find them chanting aloud over and over again at the Cafe Milo z Szcze liwa while eating boiled potatoes and drinking vodka, and where the other patrons look at them as their own future, as what they will become when they too are rich American fuddy-duds, as their beloved homeland becomes yet another anonymous market economy.

What, inquires Boy 1 of Boy 2, does the rattle-snake approve? Then they both chant the answer to the question, which we now invite you also, dear reader, to sing along with them: The rattlesnake approves of himself without any reservations.

Where is this literary effort going, where is Wislawa Szymborska? Why doesn't she answer her telephone? Where are you Wislawa, dear? Why won't you reveal yourself and come dine with the old rattlers, whose tails knock so hollowly in such unreserved approval.

What to do, where to go, how to proceed, what surface other than the poem to inhabit. The boys order more boiled potatoes and another round of vodka (yes, beloved reader, yes indeed) and start chanting another Wislawa line: We see here an instance of bad proportions, we see here an instance of bad proportions.


Copyright © 1996 Raymond Federman