Tea with the Tin Man

In the 1930s, all we English society girls were mad for Munich. Unity Mitford, one of the six troublesome Mitford sisters, was living there at the time. Unity had become a Fascist and a Hitler groupie. She adopted the name “Unity Valkyrie Mitford.” UNITY VALKYRIE roaring around Munich on her black motorcycle steed. She wore a black shirt and a man’s tie and a gold swastika pin on her collar, dressed in black leather head-to-foot and could skillfully dismantle and clean a carburetor. One day she picked me up and said, “Hop on, Sybil, we’re going to the Hofgarten to have tea with Hitler.”

As we approached the table, Unity grasped my hand, she was shaking with excitement. Hitler was so short that when he got up to greet us, I thought he was still sitting down. Really. And his hands, I couldn’t help but notice, when he passed the milk and the sugar bowl. They were rather small and twitchy. Yes, twitchy. Unity told me later it was nothing to worry about. That was just the cocaine. He held a German shepherd puppy in his lap and stroked it with his doll-like fingers, while he held forth on the merits of a small affordable car he was designing for the German people, he called the Volkswagen. He sketched it in a shaky hand on the tablecloth, a squiggly blue-inked bug of a thing. He bought an ice cream for a little girl at the next table and squeezed her pink little knee. I don’t remember much more than that.  My strongest impression was that he was FLAT. Flat and made out of painted tin, like one of those little tin metal soldiers you find in a souvenir stall on the pier at Brighton.

In September of ‘39, when Britain declared war on Germany, Unity took a pearl-handled pistol to the English Garden and shot herself in the head. Unfortunately, she survived. They left the bullet in. While Unity lay in hospital, a huge bouquet of yellow roses arrived in her room.  She showed me the note, written in Hitler’s nearly illegible schoolboy scrawl, “My dearest Fraulein Unity, you are for me the ideal Aryan-Nordic woman. I hope you have saved a lock of your precious blonde hair for me. Get well soon, yours Adolf.” Unity lay there half-paralyzed, her dark roots growing out quite healthily. But with that 9mm bullet lodged in her brain, Unity was never quite right again.

 

Charles Leipart 

Finalist 2017 Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize for What Wolfman Knew, Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival; Received the 2016 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, 1st Prize Award for the One Act, Cream Cakes in Munich. His play, A Kind of Marriage, exploring the private life of British novelist E.M. Forster, received an Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation LGBT 2015 Playwrighting Award. His original portrait of Pamela Harriman, Swimming at the Ritz, developed with award-winning BBC director David Giles, began a UK National Tour in March 2011 supported by the Arts Council England; American premiere at New Jersey Rep Company, Jan 2015. Charles is a former fellow of the Edward Albee Foundation and a member of the Dramatists Guild.  www.charlesleipart.com

Modern Art

If you wear a suit of bees

Through the Yale Art Gallery,

They will think you are misplaced art –

And exhibit you somewhere:

Artist unknown – you and your suit of bees will be.

 

You will buzz with acclaim,

The likes of (N.) will adore you,

You and your art: one substance –

Envy of Carrevagio, jealousy of Picasso.

 

Oh, avant-garde!  Oh, expressionist absolutism!

Oh, you and your suit of bees

And a career flowing with milk and honey.

 

But somewhere after midnight

As you remain still on your pedestal,

You will hunger for beer and pizza,

Itch to see old episodes of Dr. Who,

Be desperate for her breasts and eyes

Turning toward you.

 

Mark Fitzpatrick

 

MARK FITZPATRICK is basically a poet although he has had fiction, non-fiction, and drama published. Among his credits are Parting Gifts, Oasis, The MacGuffin, Whiskey Island Review, The Small Pond Magazine of Literature, Oxford Review, Dramatic Shorts, Amarillo Bay and many others. His novel-in-verse was a finalist in the Tassy Walden Creative Writing for Young People contest. Two of his plays are in. He works as an ESL teacher with ELS schools at the University of New Haven. He worked as an ESL teacher in Brazil, Honduras, Haiti, and the Republic of Somaliland. Before he was a child care worker for over 20 years in a low-income, African-American neighborhood of Chicago.

Mark Belair

Mine

 

I was in the yard working

when I heard, through the

open kitchen window,

my wife tap a spoon shank

on the edge of a cooking pot.

 

Of course, it was my mother I heard,

as if transported to years ago,

me a boy, playing in the yard, dusk falling,

my father clipping hedges,

my hunger just starting to gnaw.

 

Then one of my boys ran past crying,

“Mom? Is it dinner yet?”

and I, brought back to the present,

hedge clippers open wide,

knew that that boy—

not a duplicate of me

or owned by anybody—

was, nevertheless, in a living line

of felt continuity,

mine.

 

 

Jingle

 

I lean my elbows,

idly, on

an uneven café table

and everything

jingles—flatware

chinking, sliding saucer

tinkling ice cubes in a glass that

clinks a sugar dispenser—and I’m

awoken from

my sketchy, troubled, already-

vanished reverie of elsewhere,

my raised elbows

resettling—and resettling me to—

the durable

flatware, glass, saucer.

 

Mark Belair

 

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com