The unexamined life is not worth living.

He’s Mr. Rotundo, a balding, pot-bellied palooka,
who wears shorts whatever the weather reports.

Light on his feet, he moves like a soft-shoe
vaudeville dancer. He lives with his old mother,
who makes macaroni and meatballs with garlicky
gravy, ready as soon as he comes home after school.

Each day, he’s cheering kids on. With the shriek of his whistle,
he reminds kids to be good sports, not sore losers,
and “you can’t be a winner every day.”

He lives for school vacations, like a prisoner in San Quentin,
For fun, he plays Pied Piper, taking fatherless boys to the circus,
returning home to wrestle with them on his living room floor.

Retirement glows in his brain, a beacon of Elysian Fields,
as he practices his golf swing, preparing for halcyon days
on The Links at Madison Green. The rest of his time
is spent glued to sports and mindless hokum on the TV screen.

He chose to be a teacher to earn good money for playing with kids,
but never thought of the monotony of the daily routine,
teaching gym, a deadening dendrite career. Bored to tears,
he often wants to pull out what’s left of his hair.

Unlucky in love, his mother, tired of singing ‘Que sera, sera,’
nags him to summer in Salerno, where everyone calls him “The Professor,”
He rejects these Italian ladies, suspicious of their patchouli perfume,
and the outrageous wink of mascara smudged eyes.

He’s afraid they’re just looking for a free ride to the States.
I wish I could tell him…love is possible. We have to try.

Milton P. Ehrlich