Fred – By: Ron Gavalik

From an early age, before preschool,

there was one Pittsburgh man inside a box

who showed us how to find one’s bliss.

He set the tone to lead a happy life.

While I sat on the sofa, pillow hugged tight,

the Pittsburgh man inside the box taught me

the virtue of kindness and curiosity.

He taught me make believe.

 

When I grew up, life’s temptations

pushed aside his lessons.

I traded the Pittsburgh man inside a box

for the gluttonous abuses of flesh and booze,

soul-murdering hatred, and greed.

 

One early morning, around 8 A.M.

I crawled out of bed,

careful not to disturb the woman

whose name had been lost in a fog of whiskey.

I walked into the living room,

switched on the TV, and there he stood,

the Pittsburgh man inside a box.

His gentle manner, his big imagination

revealed to me a simple truth:

I’d chosen the wrong path.

 

A few years later while at the job,

the sad news came.

The Pittsburgh man inside a box had died.

He contracted stomach cancer.

That night the TV played his old shows.

I sat on the sofa, pillow hugged tight,

and said goodbye.

 

 

(originally published in the poetry collection, Slag River Sins)

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