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Johnny No-Trump
by Mary Mercier

JOHN: Mother, I never feel special, ever. Not how I look, or dress or sound. But one time a special feeling happened to me, and it never goes away. Ya know how ya have to recite bits and pieces for class? Even if it's all Greek they make ya learn them. Well...out of no-place once, I'm going over and over some lines, and suddenly they made sense. I mean I knew inside me what they meant. Like they were written for me! And it was such a shock, that I raced around the house to let you all in on it. But everybody was out, so I just kept putting down the book, and picking it up agian, and holding it way a it was alive. And I had to tell somebody...but the only person...well, the picture in the front of his old book...I held it under a light...and finally I said to William Shakespeare..."Do you know who you are?" I was just so amazed to find this dead, well, friend really. Dead friend. And after that, I'd read anybody called a poet. I mean, they're better than me, and I wanted in. And if I play around with rhymes and stuff now, it's because, it's the only part of me that's any good. I mean, honestly, Mother, do I look like some swinger, that's gonna wear a suit and schlunk, and I've just been sent down here too late, that's all. Why? WHY? couldn't I have been born tall and brave and brilliantly talented back in the eighteenth centure, when if ya wanted to be a poet, they all said, "Go, man, go, it's the most!" Mother, I'm a short coward in Nassau County, February, 1965, and couldn't you be on my side? (He checks his pulse.) And I hope I don't have high blood pressure because I'll never make the next week, next year, you're so worried about.

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