Spring 1988, Volume 5.1
Poetry

DAVID LEE
Arthritis


Read other work by David Lee published in Weber Studies: Vol. 13.1 (Conversation)Vol. 13.1 (Poetry); Vol. 20.1 (Poetry)Vol. 23.3 (Poetry); Vol. 24.3 (Poetry).

 

For Ken and Bobbie

Can you come help me a minute?
Take and grab this thing right here,
now put them pliers on it there
and hold, I'll get a clamp on
wait a minute, just hang on
right there, there. Okay
young leggo it's done and I thank you

I cain't grab holt of nothing tight
today my arthritises is bad
and I haven't got no grip
I swallered 4 asprins for breakfast
but they ain't working yet I wisht
I had me a copper bracelet
they say helps out when you got it on
or one of them Mexican chinchilla dogs
you can set with it in your lap
and watch T.V. and it keeps
the arthritis away

Ruby Patrick back home had one
she's Kay Stokeses daughter
married this Jack Patrick rancher
he hit oil everywhere he stuck a stick
in the ground just like Kay Stokes done
so she's rich on both side
but she had arthritis anyway
in her fingers and toes I heard
went all over to them specialist doctors
spend a dam backseat full of money
to find out they couldn't do nothing
and then asked old man Cummings
who could take warts off of you
what to do cause he'd know
he sez get you one of them Meskin
dogs without no hair on it that can fit
in a teacup they advertize in Grit
and the funny books and set with it

in your lap a hour a day
and it'll be a whole lot better
but it won't never go away
you might as well get a marriage license
to it so she did

I heard she paid a hundred dollars
for that dog and got papers
to prove it was a real one so
when Kay Stokes heard about it
he thrown a fit till his face swole up
like a tomater sez what the hell
goddam good is that thing?
he had half the money in the world
but a hundred dollars for a dog like that
was one too many for him that day
can it hunt? he sez can it swim?
can it bring back a duck or a quail?
that sonofabitch cain't even set up
in the front seat of a pickup
and see out the winder
what possesed you to pay good money
for a little shiteater fycet?
she sed you get out of here right now
it's none of your buiness what I do
and it's not one penny out of your pocket
so you don't have nothing to say about it.

Any penny spent in this town he sed
is a penny that could of been mine
but he went and left anyway
he never did like that dog
but that was okay
that dog never had no love
for him either

she'd set in the furniture
in her living room with that dog
on her leg and if anybody come in
it'd commence to growl and shake
all over, its lip would come up
its eyes'd bug out like grapes
on a mustang vine

that dog known in its heart
it could whup anything alive
that come in or around its house
or the car if it was in it
you could set there and talk to her
for a hour or shell peas all morning
that dog'd never take its eyes off you
or quit snarling, it didn't like nobody
except her and that included her husband
but she se it did help her arthritis
and she liked it so there you go

Then these sorry poor people
come to town in a whole carload
it must of been a dozen of them it seemed
we Buggered they traveled from one town
to anothern looking for handouts
after they left
nobody got a for sure count
on all them kids
but it didn't seem no way
he could of got the back winders
in his car closed
he'd of had to cut off 7 arms
and a leg and 3 heads

they showed up at the churchhouse
Sunday morning and sed
they want to join up, man sez
he wants to address the congergation
sed my kids ain't ate a good meal
in a week now what ya'll
gone do about it, brothers and sisters?
Wasn't nothing they could do
except have a prayer and take up
a collection but they didn't get much
so somebody sez I think it was
Billie Hill we could bring them back
some food this evening
at the prayer meeting so they did

Mrs. Patrick she brung 12 quart jars
of homecanned peaches she was proud of
she won the blue ribbon almost ever year
at the fair and sez I hope you enjoy them
but could I please have the jars back
when you done? she's polite that time
he sez yasmaam what do I brans them?
she sez address on the jarlabel
so they loaded it all up in his car
and he taken and drove off
didn't even stay for prayer meeting

next morning here he comes
up the street dragging a kid's wagon
nobody known where he got
probley stated it with all them jars
in it empty none of them even warshed
and knocks on the door
she sed did you eat all that fruit arredy?
when she seen the wagon
on the sidewalk he sez
good godamighteychrist lady
when we eat fruit we eat fruit, by god.
Neighbors seen her
ed far face and jaw went so tight
she could of bit a hole in a crowbar
never sed nothing
went out the door and picked up 3 jars
in each hand and went in with them
then come back for the rest
he never offered to help her carry them
but when she come back he sez
anybody in there happen to have
a cigarette? she sed
nobody in that house smokes
that I've ever heard of
he sez well that's your buiness
I expect not mine
she sed it certainly is
shut the wooden door when she went in

he set down right by the yard gate
started picking his nose and whistling
like he worked there for them
for a living at their house

waiting, he's a professional
she seen it right then
through the windercurtains
he's gone wait her out till she come
and sed what do you want?
that's how come he had the wagon
to carry more back to where he come from

well he had the wrong lady
just cause she was expensive
lived in a big house
and had a fycet she was still
Kay Stokeses daughter and that dog
had papers to prove who he was
so she let the sun shine on him
all that day till the afternoon
she opened the door a crack
he started to get up probley thought
she's gone offer him some lemonade
here come that dog out the door

he sez hey lady your shiteater
he never got to finsh
that dog was on him
went around his ankle 3 times
torn his sock right off his leg
put a amok right up the back his shirt
like a lawnmower run over him
lit in his hair
grapt a mouthful out and about dug
a hole in his head with his back feet
in about a second and a half
GODAMITEY SONOFABITCH he yelled
jumped up and tried to run
but the dog got in his eyes
and scratched his face
he put his foot in that wagon
and it took off the other way
he fell down on the fence
ripped his britches hollering like a elephant
with its tail in a knot
got up and run down the street
that dog chased him a block

bit him on the finger when he swatted
at it running never broke a stride
he's gone
they left the wagon right there
on the sidewalk for a week
where he turnt it over
but he never come back for it
nobody saw them again
so they give it to the school finally

she sed Carlos!
that's what she called that dog
you come right back here in this house
right now, I didn't say
you could go outside
that dog spun round in the street
and went home like a whirlwind
was after him
went through that front door
right between her legs
and she shut it, it was all over
nobody ever heard what she sed
to that dog or about it
she never mentioned it again

but that dog held her arthritis down
for a many a many year
she'd set with it and pet it
in her lap and even Kay Stokes
sed it cut down on the doctor bills
and the aspirins from Bob Collier drug
but he never did say it was worth it
but then he wouldn't
he wouldn't give a inch for nothing

so I wouldn't mind having one
I'd go watch TN. with it
and let you fix this dam bailer
I cain't rigger out why that feeder
don't work and I cain't get this wing nut
unscrewed come help me
don't just stand there looking
I told you my fingers don't work today