Monday, February 20, 2017

Charles Rammelkamp


Our neighbor Mister Bellamy was a bigamist.
I wondered if his name had tipped the scales:
Bigamy/Bellamy. "Beautiful friend," right? Belle Ami:
Fate propelling him into this double life.

When I hadn't seen him or his family for a while
(wife and two boys, Bobby and John),
I remarked about it to my mother
over breakfast one Sunday morning.

"Turns out he has another family," Mom confided,
her voice sizzling like the bacon she served,
scandal in her wheelhouse, gossip the fuel
that turned the big wheels of conversation.
"Minnie only found out about it a month ago."

I was left wondering which family he preferred.
Were Minnie and the kids his "real" family,
here in Maryland, the folks in Florida
just some guilty pleasure?

Mister Bellamy travelled a lot.
Bobby and John always bragged
their father was away "on business."
Vague as it sounded I never asked
what that business was.

When Minnie and Bobby and John disappeared,
nobody knew where they went,
just that Mister Bellamy had gone to prison,
where he’d be for five years
before he could get out and start a new family.

Charles reads "Mr. Bellamy":

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Charles confesses: "I’ve known so few real bigamists in my life, actually only one, which may have been just a rumor. Mister Garçon, who lived down the street from us, was said to have second family he visited somewhere overseas. He was also rumored to be a closet homosexual. 'He looks like a bigamist,' I remember Mrs. Montag saying, but what did that mean? What does a bigamist look like? Mister Garçon was a quiet man, weak chin, receding hairline, thick eyeglasses in big black frames."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives, and edits The Potomac, an online literary journal. His photographs, poetry and fiction have appeared in many literary journals. His latest book is a collection of poems called Mata Hari: Eye of the Day (Apprentice House, Loyola University), and another poetry collection, American Zeitgeist, is forthcoming from Apprentice House.