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Poem: A Memory 

A Memory
Studs Terkel (1912-2008)

And he said: Ida died in 1999.
I miss her. We were married sixty years.
What can you say? That’s life.

One night, a couple of years after, I’m home
Watching the baseball game on television,
The lights are out, so is the sound.

Don’t need sound anyway,
Just watching the game is a comfort,
I’m alone—my son’s not due back for hours.

Besides, I’m almost deaf without my hearing aid,
Which I’ve left somewhere in the bathroom,
Truth is I can barely hear—even with it.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye,
I sense the front door opening.
It’s too early for Dan to be back

I turn my head—
And there’s this guy, a stranger,
Standing near the door

I jump up, I’m 87, but I jump up
And I flick on the light,
The guy covers his face and yells something.

He runs in, turns the light off
I run into the next room, turn the light on
The guy turns it off.

We’re doing a ballet, see, dancing from room to room,
I’m trying to get to my hearing aid,
I can’t hear a damn thing he’s saying.

I get to the bathroom, flick on the light,
Grab my hearing aid, stuff it in my ear,
Now I can hear him: Give me your money—all of it.

He’s a young guy, see, and he’s robbing me,
I got two hundred bucks in my pocket.
I reach in and hand him the money. What could I do?

He turns and—I don’t know what made me do it—
I say: hey, you got all my money. I got nothing left.
He stops. Oh, oh, I’m thinking, what have I done?”

And he gives me back twenty bucks of my own money.
Then he’s out the door—and I’m laughing.
A capitalist would never have done that.

Speaking of...

  • A poem in memory of Studs Terkel (1912-2008), by James Houtrides.


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