Ben Gocker


The oboist sat
and picked and peeled
oranges from the bowl
up on the counter top.

His wife called
from the portable phone,
making demands.

But it was difficult
to answer the demands.
The oboist was eating oranges.

"The pontoon is leaking
and I am in the middle
of the lake! It is December!
For Christ's sake!"

His wife yelled at him
out of love.

He covered the phone
and coughed. He coughed
up flecks of rind
that looks like light switches
and resembled burns.

Returning, "It is not even
called a pontoon, and besides
it is June where I am."

He peeled back his third,
then his fourth. The lake
was thin and black.

He thought of the congestion
in his chest. The connection
of the phone line broke-up.

He lost touch, yet resigned
himself to darn the holes
made in his sweater
by the oils of the orange.


"Honey, it is June here
and I am trying."

"We will have to meet
each other in March."

His wife pulled nearer to him,
her hand on his chest.

"Our cheeks will be filled
with mulberries."

"Yes, even so, we will try to kiss."

The oboist looked into
His wife's eyes, and said:

"I will watch you as you move through
the lake in the pontoon."

She returned: "I will listen
as you play your oboe."

"If you sob, I will hand you Kleenex
and indulge the ablution of your tears."

"If you die, I will never
marry again, or at least, I will
wait five years."

"We can eat oranges together. . ."

" . . . or even toss them away together."

"We cannot live our lives
in caves, but we can keep
free of the lions."

"If we try."

"Yes, if we try."

"Effort. There is always effort
in loving."

"There is no other way."


Now this, of course, is where it gets good.


Having been separated
for 3 years,
the oboist hanged himself.

His feet on a block of ice,
they waited for it to melt.

She got custody of Cory,
the yellow Labrador retriever.

He had been with another
but found himself
at odds with " love".

She was having sex
three times a week
and found himself
innocent complicity.

The fourth year
brought a lion
crashing through
the plate glass patio
doors. He gorged

on the guts of the dog,
on the woman,
and on the lover.

After being caught,
the lion said this:

"2 out of 3
ain't bad."

The lion cut a deal
with authorities,
and later was released.

S. Balsley


click to go to: