Two Poems

I Married a Keebler Elf

I swear, sometimes (sometimes? oh, all too often)
I fill this treetrunk like an oblong coffin,
Neck crooked against the ceiling, trussed
In my Nefertiti-sarcophagus.
“She’s not a halfling,” he says, “and she’s not
A human child,” when his buddies drop
By in chef-hats and breeches buttoned tight
As tights on ruddy midget Mennonites.
They hijack my kitchen, not that I begrudge
Their baking Keebler Grahams or EL Fudge,
Club crackers, pan by pan, or Pecan Sandies,
Their small hands seizing all the butter handy
Till none is left for toast next morning. I’m
Dustbusting fluff and flour all the time,
And when his cooking friends show up, I swear
For all my size I’m barely even there.
Not that we’re close now, even once they’ve left—
He steps into his breeches with a sniff
When after sweat and grunts and broken springs
I don’t—I really try—I just don’t feel a thing.
“What do you expect, I’m an elf,” he sulks.
As if I’ve ever been turned on by bulk.
He strokes my ears sometimes when he’s convinced
I’m sleeping, and I wonder what he thinks
Of my outgrowing our oaken hollow,
Of how I never smile when I swallow
His latest Soft Batch, even Chocolate Chip,
Of my ears, too, and their not-quite-pointy tips.


The Overachieving Reddy Children

Freewheeling Neela was always polite
And artfully finished her cartwheels with curtseys.
No one could chide her for roaming at night
Though by day she might wander barefooted through Jersey.

Her powerline-tightropes would hold when she strolled them
Since her body weighed less by an ounce than her clothes.
Her teachers, when local policemen had polled them,
Insisted her essays were models of prose,

But Mummy and Pappa knew well how she toggled
Her thumbs in electrical outlets for fun
And swam in the Bay with no cap and no goggles
And ventured, in private, the tonguetwisting pun.

So courteous was she in Chemistry class
That though she burned down a whole wing of the school
By stirring butyrophenol in a glass, 
The interview process at Princeton was fooled.

With her four-year degree and her hair in a bun,
She’s moved to New York, where she manages funds.

Irreverent Ravi delighted in derision.
He spat in the styrofoam cups of the jobless
And instrument-cases of subway musicians.
A Brahmin, consulted, declared he was godless—

Not one out of thirty-three thousand a fit.
His counselors guessed there was trouble at home
But never suspected that Ravi was it.
The classmates he bullied were driven to poems;

The substitute teachers who fell in his clutches
Created a website for sharing their stories.
His favorite pasttime was kicking at crutches,
His favorite firewood, Tuesdays with Morrie.

He denuded of blooms the memorial shrines
Where loved ones had marked a disaster vehicular
And scoffed at their grief-notes for slackness of line
And peed on each cross with a slash perpendicular.

Yet how he out-tested the Jew and the Gentile!
Med schools were floored by his sky-high percentiles.

Insouciant Sunil was strictly at ease,
Unflummoxed by floods, and by earthquakes unshaken.
On the eve of exams, he was swinging his Wii;
On the day of exams, he could scarcely awaken.

Though he strolled under ladders, he rose all the same.
He insisted that luck was a matter of pluck
And with track-suited sangfroid accepted his fame
For doing a lapswim, or tapping a puck

At the Regional level, and then at the State.
No hurricane hurried his heartbeat along.
Report cards like his were a matter of fate;
He hummed differential equations like songs.

Yet Sunil’s the one you must never invoke
When a guest at the Reddy’s, enjoying samosas
Then burning your mouth when you chase them with Coke.
Mrs. Reddy will wail, a Mater Dolorosa

One semester in Rome, and her Sunil came home
With a girlfriend, a tongue stud, and prizewinning poems.

 —Amit Majmudar, Dublin OH