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--after the Roman Polanski film

Snapping pictures of adulterers in the act is an honest living.
A fine living for fast on his feet, tailored, tough guy,
P.I. Jake Gittes. Smoke. Drink. Joke. And smile, smile, smile
your I’m-in-love-with-myself-so-you-should-be-too smile.
Forget about the girl you couldn’t save in Chinatown.

High-class alabaster blonde mindfucker Mrs. Mulwray,
Ida whatever, Walt Disney’s mouse . . . Does it really matter
who hired you to snap shots of Mr. Mulwray with his mistress?
You got paid. It’s 30s boomtown L.A.
Forget about the girl you couldn’t save in Chinatown.

Why take on venerated old tycoon Noah Cross?
A whale of a man. Creator of his own cash ocean.
That a man is old and made of money does not mean
he no longer needs more--
What are you, Jake, some kind of Red?

Why take on the L.A. Dept. of Water and Power?
The puny big-nosed refugee who blithely switchblade-sliced
your trespassing nose into bloody pulp with a single stroke,
he knows how life plays out in this world of ours.
Forget about the girl you couldn’t save in Chinatown.

What’s it to you if Noah Cross owns the water supply?

What’s it to you if Noah Cross rapes the ghostly 13-year-old
girl he sired raping his daughter, the recently widowed
Mrs. Mulwray?

Mrs. Mulwray is dead. Finely-chiseled face lawfully blown off.

Old Noah Cross. Gnarly and huge. A leafless tree.
Stiff boughs hang tangled over ghostly girl-child shoulders,
clutching her mute open mouth and a teensy naked knee.
Bone-girl. From behind. Reared into his rude trunk.

Cops saw. But only you could taste her sour yellow terror.

*First published in Skidrow Penthouse #10

  Ted Jonathan __

OCD is not a disease that bothers;
it is a disease that tortures. --J.J. Keeler

On that Juicy Fruit Friday when the dreamy
but serious Miss Parkhurst gave out sticks of
gum with the geometry test, I lost myself staring
at her. The constant, crippling need to repeatedly
order random numbers & words within my head,
eased. “Why’re you staring, Ted?” she quietly
asked before the entire class. Clutching that rare
untormented moment, I didn’t feel awkward
but stopped staring & shut my eyes. I got a zero--
enjoying a few minutes free of being a hostage
in my own head too much to exhaust wrestling
a hypotenuse. Since the zero was an aberration
at the end of term she tossed it. But what I really
wanted was to hold her tight, lay my pained
head on her shoulder & learn to cry.

*First published in Open Minds Quarterly Vol 20# Issue 2

  Ted Jonathan__

One On One With the Big Dipper

More awesome than the spectacular
pattern of 7 stars in the night sky,
it was, indeed, Wilt Chamberlain
coming into sight, as I stood taking
a lunchbreak smoke by the bland 42nd St.
office building I worked in. Streamlined
and perfectly proportioned, a shade
over 7 feet tall, “The Big Dipper”
held insurmountable individual
records, and was easily the biggest,
most dominant athlete of my childhood.
Larger than life, in my world he ranked
number 2, second only to Spiderman.
Retired for more than twenty years, now
into his fifties, effortlessly toting a large
gym bag in hand, his gaze fixed straight
ahead, well above all other heads, strides
long and fluid, he exuded the aplomb
of a demigod. As many called out to him
in adulation, I stuffed a sudden twisted
urge to yell, Howzda air up dere?
The man was nothing short of a natural
wonder. Seeing him now, I was able to
forget about the fat rent I owed the usurious
lord of the land, and that in twenty minutes
I’d be back working a job I hated, for a man
I couldn’t stomach. Fueled by rare purpose
on this otherwise dead day, I needed
to show Wilt proper respect, so I pursued
him. Standing by his side, I firmly said,
“Wilt, you could still lead the league
in rebounding.” He halted. Looked down
deep into my face, and said, “I believe
you’re right.” I was a little kid again.

*First published in The Chiron Review Issue# 112/113

  Ted Jonathan__