By on Sep 12, 2011 in Poetry

Communication graphic


It was always the same
he’d stand on the corner
in front of the kiosk
playing his sax
one note at a time
like walking a dog
the same deliberate gait
step by measured step.

“Are there enchiladas in heaven?”
I’d ask him
drop a dollar in his old felt hat
that must have belonged to his father
        [they don’t make them like that anymore].

“Are there enchiladas in heaven?”
I’d ask again
wait for his answer
that always came
     “bo ba be bot”
a line of black stemmed circles
stepped out of his sax
as he’d raise his right eyebrow
in an inverted smile.

The last time I saw him
I changed the question
just for fun.

“Are there tacos in hell?”
I asked him
dropped a five into his old felt hat.
“Are there tacos in hell?”
I asked again
waited for the answer.

He looked at me
as though he’d never seen me
then replied
     “be ba bo da deda da do.”
An undulating rope of black circles
slowly writhed from the sax.
I waited for his eyebrow to rise;
    it didn’t.

The next time I passed
he wasn’t there.

“Died a few days back, heart attack.”
The guy at the kiosk told me.
“Just fell asleep in his room at the rectory,”
Father Fitzpatrick said.
“Looked after the church, you know.”

I didn’t.

I went to St. Francis
to light a candle and say a prayer.
I’d miss the old fellow
his talking sax.

Beside me on the pew
I saw a paper
turned it over
saw the picture
an enchilada with a halo
a sax beside it.
Scrawled beneath the drawing
one word


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Hillary Bartholomew is the pen name of a 20-year-old semi-retired teacher of English as a Second Language in the Dade County School System. She also works part-time as a waitress. A widely published poet, she enjoys traveling, archaeology, Indian and Egyptian mythology and her pet bulldog. She has two daughters. Her sun sign is Aries.