A Poem by Mark Wunderlich - Believer Magazine
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A Poem by Mark Wunderlich

by Mark Wunderlich
November 17th, 2020

Ha Ha Little Hunchback

Ha ha little hunchback—look at him pretend to trip,
teeth in his pocket, ring the doorbell three times

and make the children clap! He taught me
to run the bandsaw and run the chainsaw,

cut a key from a blank key, how to break into a car
through the window without breaking the window.

He fixed slot machines and gumball machines,
made mechanical decoys with pulleys and weights.

Verstehst du, Bub?” he’d ask, and I’d nod
but I usually didn’t understand the little hunchback.

At nine I couldn’t drive so he taught me to drive.
We’d cruise the corn stubble with the noses

of our midget guns poked out the windows of the Jeep.
His: The Black Prince. Mine: Little Red Fox,

blocks on the pedals so both of us could reach.
We’d shoot squirrels and we’d shoot ruffed grouse

and when I shot a pheasant cock, he had the feathers
made into a fancy band for a hat.

“Good enough for who it’s for,” he’d say,
tapping in a crooked carpentry nail.

He made his money in moonshine sugar,
made his money making bad luck loans,

hired a giant everyone called Tiny
then he became Tiny’s home. 

His teeth pinched so he didn’t wear them,
his idea of a lady’s gift was a meat slicer he knew

she’d have to wash, but who wouldn’t want to ponder
a moon of pink bologna slipped fresh into an outstretched palm?

As a child he’d hitch his pony up
and beat it all the way to the train

to fetch the bales of tobacco and haul them to the shop.
If he dawdled and was late, Grandpa Adolf

would unbuckle his wooden leg
and leave it napping on a chair,

then beat his little hunchback with a cane— 
Little Hunchback, Little Hunchback

never you be late again! 

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