With a cup of hot coffee and Saturday morning leisure
I opened the Jan. 6 issue of the New Yorker, read Philip Levine’s “poem” that is really a short short story short memoir, totally prose, but in lines and stanzas, so, someone at the New Yorker, I guess because it was from “the” Philip Levine, accepted it and put it in as the centerfold poetry piece. Grousing at this, asking “where is the poetry?” I turned to the inside back cover of the New Yorker and there, in 75 point type, the blaring words, MAN UP. and the image of a pocket knife, a rollerball pen, and a pair of cufflinks. The copy with the ad reads, word for word:
“No one needs to tie your ties, mix your
drinks, or close your deals.
You know how to handle yourself.
And everything about you speaks to that.
Show the world what you’ve got
. . .and wear it well.”
So I thought, I’ve got the broken bladed pocket knife I found in my (deceased) Dad’s tools. I write with a fountain pen that my grandmother, Pasqualina Caputo, gave as a high school graduation present to my mother in 1934, and I still wear the pair of stainless steel cufflinks that my cousin Marlene Zullo gave to me when, as the altar boy, I served her wedding ceremony and Mass in 1957. So, now that I have these three iconic symbols of manhood, I can MAN UP.
But in reality, at age 70, I wake up every morning and ask myself, since I never did Man Up!, how in the hell did I get here? In reality, I walk outside to sweep snow off the car, come in, then I write my Man UP!
Flutter down snowflakes
Heaven’s communion wafers.
I’ll lie down, face up.