I can’t say why I’m thinking about Timothy Bunch.
I suppose this rain pattering on the shingles
is the password that opens the door from here to there,
evoking some melancholic need
to frame the scar of memory with words.
Nor can I explain why I vaguely associate summer
with that day I read of his execution,
when it was winter, of course,
maybe not technically– the twelfth of December, 1992–
but the crunch of frosted grass beneath my feet
surfaces now with intimate clarity, as does the icy snap
of the frozen newspaper as I freed it from its box.
“Comedy is not pretty” were Timothy Bunch’s last words
–spoken from the electric chair–
and on the bottom shelf of the bookcase behind the television,
between Vonnegut and Sylvia Plath–that’s where I kept
the Bible he bequeathed me when he shipped to Death Row,
his paperback Catholic Bible
with the annotated notes and torn cover
I repaired by taping on a picture of a Van Gogh painting
I tore out of a book from the jail library.
Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear, that’s the one,
and for years it sat by my typewriter
as my homage to dignity,
and to remind me we all dangle above the chasm by frayed thread.
I can’t say why I reminisce,
when, after all, I feel so much but know so little.
I know summers I mow, winters I shovel.
I know the garbage man comes on Tuesdays.
I know I once fell off the chair I stood on,
my Van Gogh Bible in one hand,
an empty bottle of Pinot Noir in the other,
proselytizing to Mary, my one-winged parakeet:
“God is love, dear Mary, precious love… and on the seventh day
love wept inconsolably…. ”
Comedy is not pretty.
Somewhere a mother pushes her baby in a grocery cart.
Invisible angels follow them in the air.
Somewhere a body lurches, a head smokes….
Somewhere a sneeze elicits blessings.
~ Kent Monroe
Kent Monroe lives with a delightful gang of cats and dogs in Troy, New Hampshire. He prefers to garden and write, but also works here and there to feed the gang. His words have appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, New England Review, and The Write Room.