The Frolicking Friars

                                   Cort Theater, July 14, 1921
I can imagine grandfather’s shoes, 
a little scuffed from dancing,
his feet small. Never heard 
his tenor voice rising to the quilted
loge, after the white-gloved minstrels
did their How I love ya, Sewannee,

the month Sacco and Vanzetti got convicted, 
the month Hitler took over the Nazi party.

But here he is, opening his arms, 
        warbling to raise a few bucks for the benefit
of Friars, 
his girl friend in the first row,

the first religious broadcast 
whispering over the radio 
hundreds of miles away 
in Pittsburgh,

all that static the way space
collapses into the sound 
of blood drying,    
into the half-marriage to a woman 
he half-loves,
the song he sings with all his heart 
in a theater half-full, 

               out there a world exhausted with saying
half the right thing, for half the right reason, all that fear
of nowhere
                   and the war that left so many
in trenches or hospital wards
where a shoe enters 
a man's mind that is suddenly porous,

the singer dancing his way on someone else’s tongue,                                        
opening his mouth wide for the vowels that round 
themselves into small fists like his son’s.
John Allman | Mudlark No. 37
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