Friday, April 24, 2009

Bill Tapia

Hearing about him on KHUM. He's 101.

Writer's Digest: "travel."

The Ukulelist

Tappy trod the vaudeville boards, serenaded the doughboys,
shook hands with Elvis. So many duffels, trunks, and Gladstones
fallen off the train since he picked up that uke.

Now all he carries are the nitro
and that pressboard case. Were he to forget one,
he’d prefer to drop the pills.

Still singing, still playing at one hundred and one,
his voice carries a perpetual sob, as if, despite his best intentions,
he mourns all he’s lost. But his fingers gather from strings

skeins of joy, ache, laughter.
Everything but anger. There is no anger in a ukulele.
He thinks, then, that heaven will be like the home
he’s carried for nearly a century.

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