Now You’re the Metaphor
As a kid in Potawatomi Rapids,
I thrilled to the Memorial Day parade,
always held on May 30 in those days,
even when it wasn’t on a Monday,
that first taste of summer in Michigan,
a late winter snowstorm less and less likely,
the imminent end of the school year.
White-whiskered Mister Engstrom,
veteran of the Spanish-American War,
rumored to have been a Rough Rider himself,
borne down Erie Street in a gas-guzzling convertible,
behind the high school marching band,
waving, looking a little vague, bewildered.
He was time itself; he was age personified.
Today my Medicare insurance kicks in.
In a week I will be sixty-five.
Breaking My Heart
“Don’t go breakin’ my heart,”
Elton John sings to Kiki Dee.
And what a funny metaphor for emotions,
I think, the heart. Why the heart?
All that love and hurt and betrayal and jealousy,
all that longing and desire, all that
passion, sentiment, whatever else.
And that funny red balloon shape,
where did that come from?
Silphium, a possible contraceptive,
represented in that shape, 6thcentury BCE,
carrots, with their estrogenic properties.
The red scallop with the dent in the base,
the point a stabbing downward dagger,
early fourteenth century, though
the heart as symbol of romantic love
even earlier, 1250, only then
it looked more like a pine cone.
The heart we all know from Valentine’s Day,
the one on playing cards
since late fifteenth century,
like a spread vulva, buttocks, the pubic mound:
isn’t that the one that breaks?
The one that gets pierced by Cupid’s arrow?
Cupid – from the Latin for “desire”:
He didn’t actually shoot for the heart.
Any direct hit would do.
“I won’t go breakin’ your heart,”
Kiki sings back to Elton.
Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives. His most recent books include American Zeitgeist (Apprentice House), which deals with the populist politician, William Jennings Bryan and a chapbook, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, by Main Street Rag Press. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.