Green Hills Literary Lantern



The Last Elephant in the Parade

It so happens the show strides by his home every year on this day, at this hour. It happens he doesn’t miss his dead wife like he thought he would, nor is ninety such a bad age to sit amid the calm tropics of his porch, sipping on a scotch, neat, while the Los Alamitos High School band passes, followed by rattling lawnmowers and a Chevy carrying the head of the Lion’s Club, who’s going blind with a wink and a wave.

The dog is mad with envy behind a four-foot fence.

In the distance: the black hills of Mt. Padua with weeds cropping up.

Ah, here come the Romans and Huns of the Cypress Drama Club, Orestes fixed on the future, behind them spry ballerinas, and the finale, the anti-climax to the whole shebang, which prompts a grin from this man who gave thirty years to the Pilford Printing Press and bitched some but not on paydays: the last elephant in the parade, playing his part, down to the flat tires for feet, the arthritic knees, the anchored look of St. Clement, for peanuts.


Meditation on Baked Goods

The hottest March 10 in Los Feliz history, and you’re focused on a baker’s apron. It’s cool in here, the coins in your pocket are cooling, and biscuits sound good to go with your iced tea, but you don’t move, despite the scut and scat of shoes outside and, at the next table, a gum-chomping, knee-bobbing branch manager of some sort who, on another day, might make you burn around the ears.

No, you feel too cool, too good. Seconds ago you were neck-sweaty, blinded by the sidewalk, annoyed each time you passed a news rack, caught the news and, somehow, applied it to your life. But now, focused on the dusted patch of sleet that falls from the baker’s knees to the floor, you’re thinking, in this bustling moment, of biscuits.


Brady Rhoades’ poems have appeared in the anthology Best New Poets 2008 as well as in Antioch Review, Baltimore Review, Louisville Review, South Carolina Review, Tulane Review and other publications. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice.