“September Soliloquy” by Michael Ceraolo

My name is James Benjamin Parker
and, quite unoriginally,
I was called Big Jim because I was a big man
And I want to say 
that fate,
              or destiny,
or whatever you choose to call it,
is real

I worked many jobs in my life,
and lived in many places
One of those places was Buffalo, New York,
and one of those jobs was at a restaurant
during the Pan-American Exposition
I was laid off from the restaurant job
in early September 1901,
meant I could go to see the President,
who was greeting people at the Exposition
on September 6th

The line to see him moved slowly,
and I tried to talk to the man
standing ahead of me,
he just ignored, I didn't know why at the time,
though I found out when we reached the President:
he pulled his wrapped hand from his pocket
and shot the President

I hit him in the neck and face
and knocked the gun from him
"I am told I broke his nose---
I wish it had been his neck"
"I am sorry
I did not see him four seconds before"

Afterwards, people wanted to sell my photograph,
"I do not think the American people
would like me to make capital
out of the unfortunate circumstances"
I did give some lectures about the event
when asked to do so by various groups,
but I was never the same after that day:
became a vagrant,
               had hallucinations,
was placed in an institution,
and died there a little over five years 
after the assassination
No one claimed my body,
so I was donated to science

I never did get to shake the President's hand

Michael Ceraolo is a 64-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had two full-length books published: Euclid Creek from Deep Cleveland Press and 500 Cleveland Haiku from Writing Knights Press. He has two more in the publication pipeline.