Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rotary Club del Sur

On September 5, I spoke at the Rotary Club del Sur. Before I went I took some time to find out what a Rotary Club is and what they do. Good work, it turns out. Good, charitable work. And it was a pleasant meeting. At least until I called on my imaginary friend Chuck Calabreze to speak briefly. Briefly, that is, in Chuck time.

Chuck defined poetry for the Rotarians (“a narrowing of the prose for which there is no known cure”), then, after explaining that he was “half feminist . . . on [his] mother’s side,” he delivered a feminist response to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee.” Here is the poem, which Chuck delivered in his trademark arm-wagging and growling style:


My dear Mr. Poe, you silly twit, to sleep so by the sea!
I’m dead, you’re not, and that is why it’s over between you and me.
Get a house in town, get a job, clear your head;
Get dressed, comb your hair, find a girl who’s not dead
Like your beautiful Annabel Lee.

We loved, it is true, and we walked by the sea.
We walked and we walked and we walked, didn’t we?
Angels didn’t much envy our romance, my twitness,
They envied the cardiovascular fitness
Of your beautiful Annabel Lee.

Ed, I hated that beach, the sand and the sun
(the moon by the time you and I were quite done
Walking that beach in the rain in the wind).
Bedraggled, I’d wallow; you’d breathe deep and grin,
“You’re beautiful, Annabel Lee.”

Oh, it’s true we were children; we walked by the sea.
It’s true, I loved you and I guess you loved me.
True, you pointed to stars, to the moon, to the tides.
Still, I wish you’d had something to tell me besides
“You’re beautiful, Annabel Lee.”

But now that I’m dead, you’re walking no more.
You’re balding, you’re fat, and you’ve started to snore.
I look down from this heaven, and I must confide
I’m glad I have left what you’re sleeping beside--
The body of Annabel Lee.

Are you happier now that I’ve not much to say?
I’m consistently pretty--don’t have a bad day.
It’s your favorite dress and my hair is arranged--
Come to think of it, Eddie, not too much has changed
For beautiful Annabel Lee.

And I’m so glad to know our souls won’t be “dissevered,”
(While you sleep with my body) --you’re ever so clever.
Poor Annabel Lee, you’ve bedazzled, bedeviled her.
But I guess I was always a roll in the sepulcher.
Signed, beautiful Annabel Lee.

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