Laura Putre
Keith Richards Is My Mailman
Late at night I hear the mailbox opening and shutting like my dying breath. "Special Rolling Stones Delivery," he croaks, lulling me back to sleep.

In the morning, when the sun beats down on litter and small animals, one-eyed I lift the corner of the sheet and observe him passed out under my bed. When he wakes he'll be hungry, craving his favorite snack of tomatoes and powdered sugar. Sigh. I lace up my Sears gravity boots and float to the kitchen. No, life hasn't been the same since Keith Richards became my mailman.

For one thing, I never use stamps. And I no longer receive letters - only packages addressed to "Oklahoma Daddy." Before I snip the string or rip the tiniest peek of brown paper, I always try to guess what?s inside, but I never guess right.

"A Dream Come True!" I shout. "A big cake!"

I never guess "tarantula dozing on satin pillow" or "shrunken head of Salvador Dali" or "bed that changes into a race car."

Another 19th nervous difference is whereas I once owned zero solid silver toothbrushes, I now own seven - one for every day of the week. And if you look in my closet - surprise! - you will behold not shirts I acquired in junior high school but rows of velvet jackets of every color in the rock 'n' roll rainbow - Shocking pink, Hangover orange, Roll Over Beethoven red, No Time Off for Good Behavior green.

Bath time has also grown virtually unrecognizable since Keith Richards became my mailman. Once I used soap. I now use Chuck Berry Bubble Bath - "walks like a duck as it cleans."

Yes, it's me all right. Me, the former champion swimmer. I once practiced the butterly and practiced the butterfly some more. Now I just shiver in my Moroccan robe by the hotel pool and pay someone to swim for me.

My neighbor complains that service isn't what it used to be.

"They'll let any lead guitar player deliver the mail these days," she grubles.

But he's the only mailman in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame," I explain. My neighbor should be a little more understanding. After all, she is the only car salesperson who performs heart surgery.

On Wednesday, I lift the metal lid on my address and reach for the grocery store circulars witht eh pineapple centerfolds, but all I find are broken promises and bottomless chord changes wrapped in orange rubber bands.

He leaves my apartment at dusk, rubbing sand castles and dead flowers from his eyes. "Shidubey," I say from the doorway, giving a little wave.
His gray lips struggle to find the right words.

"I think I'll just lie down in the middle of the street and rest for a while."

Laura Putre is from Cleveland, Ohio, though she has also lived in Wichita, Kansas. She writes for the Cleveland Scene, a weekly alternative newspaper. The above poems are republished with the permission of the author from The Trapeze Artist, # 7 in the Cleveland Leaves chapbook series from Buring Press, online at
All contents copyright The New Journal, 2002