THE LAST POLACK

baa

THE LAST POLACK
She shot her first husband
bang!
a minor Chinatown gangster
Tony Pallano
did time for it
two years
then ran a whore house in Gary Indiana
got old there
mid forties
dreamt of security
comfort
well being
wisdom
no more fucking around
maybe a house in the suburbs
marrying my uncle
Tom Pulaski
reasoning
believing
i mean really believing
in the depths of her heart
that a Polack
could be trusted
always saying
that you could take a Polack to the bank
that a Polack was a good investment
an investment in the future
and that
while
no one
not anyone
wanted to hire a black man
everyone wanted to hire a Polack

Nelli Gervaise
my aunt
the lady that married my uncle
Tom Pulaski
(15 years her junior)
said she was Sicilian
one hundred percent
baby
but black woman
those that knew her
the ones that lived one block away
across the color line
called her that uppity nigger bitch
that high yellow bitch
that high yellow nigger bitch
whose motherfucking lunch
lie in wait
right around the motherfucking corner
(I heard it myself)
these women
neglecting
the fact
that Nelli
my aunt
was perhaps
the greatest performance artist
that Chinatown Chicago
indeed perhaps the world
had ever seen
(photo enclosed)

In short
and in a short time
Nelli Gervaise
my aunt
always always
on camera
built in audience in her head
(her ghost audience)
from the very beginning
of her marriage
punctuated
each and every sentence
(when asked about her husband)
to the world
to the gods
to whoever would listen
with
fucking Polack!
no good Polack motherfucker!

Years and years later
on his deathbed
on his very last day
Tom Pulaski
my uncle
riddled with cancer
riddled with failure
took off his oxygen mask
promising Nelli Gervaise
his wife
to get better
to get well
promising to go back to work
to quit drinking
to quit gambling
to quit whoring
(i promise baby, i swear…
oh how he loved her)
there were perhaps ten people in the room
including a doctor and a nurse
when Nelli Gervaise
incredulously
looking at Tom
her husband
the Polack she married
conscious of her audience
of her storied Chinatown existence
gave her greatest performance
ever
to date
Looking at Tom Pulaski
my uncle
her husband
tears in her eyes
quivering
shaking
pulsing
pausing
ever so slowly pausing
then erupting:
COME ON MOTHERFUCKER!
YOU’RE A DEAD MAN AND YOU KNOW IT!
AND YOU’RE THE LAST FUCKING POLACK
I’LL EVER MARRY!

(everyone present, including the doctor and nurse,
had to cover their faces to keep from laughing)

Sincerely truly really
frank pulaski

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