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My first attempt at something longer than a sestina, this poem has sat gathering space dust on my hard drive for a very long time. It started out as a verse version of an O. Henry story and exploded into a long-winded exercise of my versification muscles, and finally settled into being a story aimed at an audience that still believes that an average Joe (Jonathan) can, on any day of the week, stumble onto a miracle. There are only 2 stanzas, but I hope to change that eventually. Even if I don't, I have an idea of where the story is going, and I've established a meter (many thanks to Phish for the 3/4 verses of Esther), so I'm well on my way. Enjoy it--or don't, if you'd rather not. Do as you please.


Jonathan Pope was an average man
with an average job and an average life
with plans to eventually wake up some day
in an average bed with a beautiful wife.

Jonathan worked at a jewelry store
where he took apart watches and catches and clasps
and the closest he'd been to a murderous mood
was while stifled with customers' ungrateful gasps.

He didn't like fakery, tricks or deceit,
and assaying zirconia in pyrite-pale bands
of fake gold, which were meant as expressions of faith,
brought an unlikely twitch to his pale steady hands.

He'd mumble "it's fake" and turn back to a clock--
a dependable partner when tended and tight--
and they'd stare and they'd sputter and quiver and flutter.
Disbelieving, they'd puff out their huffy "Good night."

It happened each month about thrice, or in June
maybe twice thrice, six times, he would have to make bold
to presume some exquisite, invaluable ring
was in fact fatty clumps of fake flimsy fool's gold.

When it happened like this, he would clean up the shop
and clear up and tidy until he could close,
and go home. Then he'd go straight to bed with a headache
for hating to have to so often impose.

One such Thursday last May in the dim jewelry store,
he had seven old ladies (and three not-so-old)
ask him nicely (or seven times, well, not-so-kindly)
just what he'd implied when he'd called it "Fool's Gold."

And he closed up and slept and named each of his headaches
for ladies whose dreams he had tarnished this way.
And he always thought, "What if I didn't go back?"
And he thought, and he thought... and went back the next day.

(Except for a Friday quite early last May.)



When the clock clicked to eight one fine Friday last May,
and Jonathan unlocked the jewelry shop
he found a small package (quite large for its size)
aloof on the stoop, a crisp postcard on top.

It was swaddled with newspapers, seven days old,
in a language he thought might have been Japanese
and the postcard attached was inscribed on its back
simply yet cryptically,
Do as you please.

He glanced 'round the street and saw nobody there:
not the constant foot-traffic for Friday's first shift,
nor the constable, stable and able to stop
all the cars that kept stopping, then coasting adrift.

At that moment the street was a stage for one soul
and Jonathan Pope didn't know it at all
but he reached down to pick up that package--possessed
by a foolishness, fleeting—-he bent, then stood tall.

"By boredom, more like it," said Jonathan Pope,
and picked up the package as quick as you please,
only slower, because it hung heavy in hand,
and the weight of it put him quite ill at his ease.

When he walked in the shop the small card hadn’t changed,
and the letters still spelled out that funny demand:
Do as you please, on the back of Mt. Fuji
in a glossy blue-green, on the card in his hand.

He was certain the note wasn’t written to him.
He was certain that nobody overseas ached
to see Jonathan Pope simply do as he pleased--
to stop his assessing of diamonds (and fakes).

But his fingers were faster than good sense or thought,
and he ripped, like a child, through Nippon newsprint
not thinking of whether he should or should not
but of doing—-and that’s when he saw the first hint.

The package’s contents cast back a bright glint.



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