Someone asked me to post a feel-good poem. What could feel better than a poem about playing word games with a three-year-old on July 4th, then feeding the ducks and watching them glide away from the pier when you’re out of bread?
And the three-year-old at the picnic
said she wanted to play the violin
and I said, just like Joe Venuti
and she said, you’re a Joe Venuti
and I said, you’re a Joe Venuti
and she pulled a tuft of grass and said,
here’s some Joe Venuti
and she pointed to a sparrow scratching in the dust
and said, there’s a Joe Venuti
and from a plastic bag she dumped
a bunch of Joe Venutis
and barbecue flames caressed the grilling Joe Venutis
and men threw the Joe Venuti, popping their gloves,
while women slurped the Joe Venuti and spit the seeds
and the sun played hide and seek in dissipating Joe Venutis
and through poplar branches Joe Venuti shadows danced
across the baby’s sleeping smile.
Later, like Marcus Aurelius
observing models of human behavior,
we watched the ducks glide away
after the bread was gone.
Published in Oxford Magazine, Volume 5, # 2 and Music from Words (Bellday Books, 2007); reprinted in Poetry in Performance #46 ((May 2018)