Charley Plays a Tune

by Michael Lee Johnson


Crippled with arthritis
and Alzheimer’s,
in a dark rented room,
Charley plays
melancholic melodies
on a dust-filled
harmonica he
found abandoned
on a playground of sand
years ago by a handful of children
playing on monkey bars.

He now goes to the bathroom on occasion;
relieving himself takes forever. He feeds the cat when
he doesn’t forget where the food is stashed.
He hears bedlam when he buys fish at the local market
and the skeleton bones of the fish show through.

He lies on his back riddled with pain;
pine cones fill his pillows and mattress.
Praying to Jesus and rubbing his rosary beads
Charley blows tunes on his
celestial instrument;
notes float through the open window,
touch the nose of summer clouds.

Charley overtakes himself with grief
and is ecstatically alone.
Charley plays a solo tune.


Copyright © 2010 by Michael Lee Johnson

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