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"It's a Wonderful Life" [by Paul Violi]

Paul Violi and Star Black
It's a Wonderful Life

After the national fanfare died down, the quintuplets grew up protected from further exploitation in the safety and privacy that state funds and public donations ensured.  But, inevitably, they had to enter the real world.  On their eighteenth birthday they went to work as tellers in the same bank, my bank, the National Bank of Westchester. The first time I walked in and saw them behind the counter my heart skipped a beat:  Veronica, Vanessa, Vivian, Next Teller Please, Valerie, Vicki.  With their dark complexions, ruffled white blouses and full red lips -- like petals from a mythical flower, like the tens they plucked from their tills, they were identical down to the last curlicue.  All I could think was that it would take a lifetime to explain this moment, an eternity to explain a lifetime.  All I could say was, "Marvelous, incombustibly marvelous!"  Words that echoed down the line as people from all walks of life couldn't help but agree.  Behind his desk smiled B. Yourgrau, Manager, assured that another customer had found the answer to all his banking needs.

-- Paul Violi [photographed above with Star Black at KGB Bar 1998]
Happy birthday, Paul.

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Best American Poetry Web ad3
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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