Tommie's Bedtime Story:
An Urban Poem about Bygone Days, Full of Cliches and Stereotypes
The Daughter


Tom and Jane
sat on their fire escape
letting their entwined legs hang down
over the broken glass
from last night's drunks
they looked up at the full moon
faint through the haze of pollution
and at each other's eyes
and at the reflections of street lamps therein
Tom says "dear, I love you darlin'"
Jane says "oh, Tom, you mustn't"
And Tom jumps down,
slips on the beer leaking out of the broken bottles
stains his pants and smells like a skunk
steals the crazy man's blanket
the crazy man is too busy
carrying on a conversation with God
to notice
so Tom helps Jane down
and they find a corner in the alley
a little enclave where the garbage was supposed to be kept
before society became so wasteful
that the whole alley was needed to hold it
Tom spread the blanket
Jane spread her legs
and that is how you were made, little Tommie!
Then Tom and Jane realized
there was no way to get back up the fire escape
because the sliding ladder had been slid back up
so unfortunately they had to ring the doorbells
of their parents' apartments
and a great brouhaha ensued

Tom's mother wanted to know if he had clean habits
he said, "very clean, Ma, we always use a blanket"

Jane's mother told Tom's mother that
she had never wanted her daughter to go near that rapscallion Tom
but, "you couldn't control young ladies these days
they thought they had ideas of their own
when they were only
making the same mistakes as their mothers had"
and then she looked at herself and gave a yelp
and said "well not all the mothers.
Some were good, clean girls
who did not go out alone, and obeyed their fathers"
Jane, who was not known for independent thought, wondered
who her mother could be possibly talking about
since it was rare in their neighborhood.,
for anyone to live in the same house as their father
and rarer yet to see a father sober
and she had been taught early on that
you don't need to obey a drunk,
even if you are just a kid

Tom's mother said, "you got your daughter a good man,
on the cheap, and easily, too
Do you think anyone would marry her with her big eyes
and pixie nose like a dog if they didn't have to?"
when the children heard the word marry
they were instantly frozen on their feet
marry they thought?

"my Jane is not going to waste herself on such garbage as your Tom"
"And what if she is the family way, what then?" said Tom's mother
"It'll be too late to get her another man once it's showing"
the crazy man called out: "There is a witness!"
Everyone kept talking and paid no attention
because it was only the crazy man
"It's full moon now," he said
"and they've been playing at the beast with two backs
since the last full moon

Every day,
while the neighborhood is all
wrapped up in ‘I Love Lucy'
if you don't want Tom," continued the crazy man,
"you can have me!"
Jane said, "so-ree." like one who had been insulted
but Tom thanked the first friend of their married life
and made him best man
and they all lived happily ever after
and conceived all their children during "I Love Lucy"
six in a row, and you Tommie, are the oldest
the one we made from love before we ever went to City Hall

they lived with the crazy man and his disability check
and all took showers before the wedding,
stayed out of the alley
which was first taken over by cats,
then gangs,
then some kind of urban renewal project to save it from the gangs
which proved worse of all
and cost the city 1.3 Million dollars
nonetheless these folks didn't have a care in the world
they danced on Friday nights
and they never once knew what happened on ‘I Love Lucy.'