Ted Jonathan

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I Should’ve Helped Him Plot His Escape

The alley between the 2 buildings
was so narrow I could’ve tossed
a Spaldeen underhanded and hit
the other one, so from the window
of our third-floor apartment
I was practically on that building’s
bare second floor deck. It had one
unpainted wooden door, the door
the gray woman with the floral apron
would shove the boy out of.

The boy was about my age, ten.
A boy like any other, except
he was always dressed up; slacks,
shoes shined, and a button-down
short-sleeved shirt in warm
weather. A well-scrubbed little
man, too well-scrubbed. I never
saw him on the street or at school.
She'd shove him out the door,
and he’d beg to play with others,
only to be left there—

No ball. No books. Looking up,
down, all around, arms windmilling,
hours, he'd hop, skip and pace.
Stopping only when she'd come out,
stone-faced, and hand him a bowl
of mush and a spoon. With nothing
to rest it on, he'd eat standing.

Opening the window, I yelled, “Hey!”
He looked my way. “I'm Ted,” I said.
And asked what his name was.
“Jonah!” he shouted excitedly. I
invited him to come out and play. She
must've heard talk and came rushing
out, but when he looked up and pointed
at my window, saying, “Look Mommy,
I made a friend!”—I ducked—and she
yanked him in, shrieking, “Mommy
will drop dead if you get kidnapped!
Mommy will drop dead …!


Ted Jonathan is a poet and short story writer. Raised in the Bronx, he now lives in New Jersey. His collection of poems and short stories Bones & Jokes was published by NYQ Books (2009). His poetry collection RUN was published by NYQ Books (2016). He’s almost done with MS for his next collection Unholy Melodies.