Root Canal

When I told him I was a marketing agent
for newspaper comics, he said
whatever happened to “Prince Valiant”?
they knew how to draw in those days
they could tell a story
this “Far Side” he said—
I hope you’re not involved in that—is a joke
I dared not say
“The Far Side” was my favorite cartoon panel—
looking down on me from his high chair
with a withering smile
it wasn’t just the comics
a lot of things were going downhill
the bread was not what it used to be
no one wrote letters anymore, they were illiterate!
and public telephones had all but disappeared
“How many numbers do you have to remember
to get through the day, how many?”
—he was arranging his instruments on a small tray
above my head—
quite a few, I admitted—
I would have chosen other examples
besides, there are bakeries that have opened up
in recent years (open seven days a week)
and their bread is excellent…

“Krazy Kat,
George Herriman?
ever hear of Krazy Kat?”
he seemed angry—
what could I say?
my speech impaired by clamps and rubber tubes—
He spoke of the silver standard
and the depletion of precious metals in the coin of the realm
well underway, he claimed, in the reign of King Henry VIII—
what a fool I was to have missed that!

Stuart Dodds

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