Monday, November 20, 2017

Charles Rammelkamp


"I'm not working on your poems,"
I told Carrie, out there
on the sidewalk in front of my house
with the two policemen,
my voice patient as a shrink's.

I hadn't wanted to call the cops,
but when she started banging on my door,
wouldn't go away when I told her to,
she’d finally crossed the boundary.
The months of voicemail messages,
the landline ringing off the hook all day—
annoying, but I’d learned to live with it.

"Please, Charles! I need you!
You have to help me!"

I rolled my eyes at the policemen,
shrugged my shoulders, helpless.
Obvious she just didn't listen.
Not her fault, but not my problem.

"I've been taking my meds," she pleaded,
as if asking to spare her life.
"Doctor Shiller's balanced the dosage!"

Born the day JFK was assassinated,
Carrie had been a student of mine
at the end of the twentieth century,
now back years later,
convinced I would edit her work.

Charles reads "Cruel Poetry":

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Charles confesses: "Back when I was an adjunct in the writing program at a community college, I would sometimes have students with serious psychological problems – one boy whose grandfather drowned his grandmother in the bathtub, a “mercy killing” since she had dementia. Others manifested in different ways, and years later."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives. His most recent book is American Zeitgeist (Apprentice House). A chapbook, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press. Another chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, is also forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.

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