Friday, December 30, 2016

Tom Mandel, Frankie & Johnny

Frankie & Johnny, image by Irene Koronas

Frankie & Johnny

Frankie felt the darkness surround him as a child
Johnny flipped the light switch on & off & smiled

Frankie speaks out loud: ‘it’s coming on for night’
Johnny shapes a silence to fit around him tight

Frankie flies an all-day plane
Johnny rides the bullet train

Frankie sees the pharmacist shoot him for the flu
Johnny’s in a storefront to choose a new tattoo

Frankie’s head is shaking: ‘this is a mean old world’
Johnny reads a magazine while getting his hair re-curled

Frankie is strong in this and every room
Johnny spreads his arms to bring the temple doom

Frankie pound for pound turns things around
Johnny by the minute hammers on the ground

Frankie writes hexameter way inside his head
Johnny must bounce the ball right back where it led

Frankie sips a thermal cup
Johnny turns his sound-bar up

Frankie learns Talmud from what the rabbis wrote
Johnny with his palm up swears another oath

     While Frankie starts to rave
     Johnny just walks faster

     While Frankie frees a slave
     Johnny offs his master

     While Frankie dons a crown
     Johnny tears the next one down

     While Frankie irons his shirt
     Johnny dozes in dirt

     While Frankie files reports
     Johnny rinses shorts

     While Frankie plays the ball
     Johnny starts to stall

     While Frankie hoes what he reaps
     Johnny always plays for keeps

     While Frankie inhales a bowlful
     Johnny grows soulful

Frankie falls asleep
Johnny’s in too deep

Frankie sees a doctor to get his pressure read
Johnny turns the corner with black cat bones instead

Frankie courts bewilderment
Johnny knows just what was meant

Frankie polls his consciousness
Johnny answers less & less

Frankie sees the moments form
Johnny’s firmament is torn

Frankie loves to shout
Johnny’s all wore out

Frankie’s come too far
Johnny’s where you are

Frankie worries he’s been cursed
Johnny hollers‘do your worst!’

     Frankie refactors the future
     Johnny cooks up his past

     Frankie ignores any rupture
     Johnny bolts his repast

     Frankie is a rose
     Johnny’s made of plaster

     Frankie hearts what grows
     Johnny is a bastard

     Frankie evades disaster
     Johnny clicks his toes

     Frankie picks a stratocaster
     Johnny courts all woes

     Frankie holes up at home
     Johnny takes to the road

     Frankie authors a tome
     Johnny hefts one more load

Frankie and Johnny get in the car
Frankie and Johnny go too far

Frankie and Johnny wait for tomorrow
Frankie and Johnny don’t waste time on sorrow

Frankie and Johnny stare at the moon
Frankie and Johnny watch a cartoon

Frankie and Johnny under the sun
Frankie and Johnny under the gun

Frankie and Johnny start in a minute
Frankie and Johnny don’t see much in it

Frankie and Johnny sit out the game
Frankie and Johnny take each other’s name

Frankie and Johnny really don’t care
Frankie and Johnny tear out their hair

Frankie and Johnny just feel terrific
Frankie and Johnny read hieroglyphics

     Frankie pens “that’s all she wrote”
     Johnny croons an all-new note

     Frankie rhymes upon his soul
     Johnny abhors every goal

Frankie’s hymns, sung at night, unbend the burdened soul
Johnny groans “lend me a dime you fool; it’s time I pay my toll.”

—Tom Mandel