Midlife Adventures of Huck Finn

Headed for the sky.
She lit out for the territories.

I dug back into my blog posts to five years ago when this poem was published in Alligator Juniper, a literary magazine out of Arizona. (I can’t remember which college.) Later, it was reprinted in a magazine published through the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT. (which I still need to visit someday). I taught Huck Finn for several years as a high school teacher, so just a note about Huck’s wife, Joanna. She was one of the sisters in the book that Huck lives with. Joanna has a “hairlip” and is the only person who sees through Huck’s tall tales.

Midlife Adventures of Huck Finn

One pan-fried August evening
Huck eyed his hair-lipped wife eating
half-price appetizers at a local bar, and said:
“Joanna, I love you – but I’m not
in love with you.”

After tiresome-long years of selling stocks,
scrabbling up ladders, sucking up to managers,
he was sick of the human race, tired of her lip.
Huck wanted to rev up a chopper.
And split.

No, there was no other woman.
It was Huck’s turn to think of himself,
head downriver again.
Go fishing.

Okay, maybe he’d change his mind
if she’d change her ways.
Like lose ten pounds, quit whining
about being tired, iron his button-downs.
With starch.

After 23 years, six kids, five moves,
nine job changes, a giant hairball and a dead dog,
Huck told his wife he wasn’t in love.
Not any more.

Later, Joanna shed crocodile tears
until she heard Huck’s buzzsaw snores
from the basement La-Z-Boy.
Then she hopped on the chopper.
Lit out for the territories.

Alligator Juniper 2009, contest finalist


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