N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 3 :   S p e c i a l   E d i t i o n

L o n g   P o e m   M a s t e r p i e c e s   o f   t h e   P o s t b e a t s





Finvola Drury



Now, Children, Let Us All Rise And Sing The State Song


But first let me tell you about the snapdragons

the pink ruby yellow and white ones

in the tall footed glass my grandmother

used for celery

it’s on the old secretary

we shouldn’t have cut down

so that it could no longer hold

The World’s Hundred Greatest Detective Stories

in their bright red bindings

I got through all of one vacation

sitting in the brown velvet chair with the ottoman

my aunt gave my uncle for his birthday

in Bay Village

right on the lake outside of Cleveland

just down the road

from where that summer a man told the police

a bushy-haired intruder

had gotten into the house and murdered

his wife

and they searched and searched for a person

fitting that description

but they never found one and my uncle

was sure they never would

because the man had killed his wife himself

but the jury would not

recommend the death penalty he said

later during the trial

because they would deliver the verdict

on Christmas Eve

and no jury ever did that to a man

on Christmas

his father whose photograph

stood on the table next to the velvet chair

had witnessed an execution once

in some official capacity

and afterward had thrown up

he was a rock-ribbed Republican

my aunt said

so I wondered a lot about that


somebody was always

getting the chair in Ohio

and if it happened as it usually did

at night

my mother would sit on the couch

across from the radio

near the wall where she had put

a picture

of Mary Magdalene bared to the waist

and kneeling

with her long hair hanging down

and when time ran out and the Governor’s call

didn’t come

she’d always say

some poor mother’s heart is broken tonight

hers was anyway

it got to be part of our evening programs

after Jack Armstrong and The Lone Ranger

and Little Orphan Annie

we stayed tuned in for the execution

we knew by heart what would happen

the condemned man ate a hearty dinner

the priest administered the last rites

there was the long walk to the green door

and then

the strapping in


was the Capitol of punishment

and as all those men went so my brother might

come under a bad influence

and end up like Jimmy Cagney instead of Pat O’Brien

in the movies every Saturday

because we were poor and Irish

and hadn’t she seen him

behind the window of the pool hall on Main Street

chalking up a cue tip

as cool as a cucumber a cigarette

dangling from between his lips

and he was there with her in the stands

the night

the Mangan girls and I

and hundreds of others

danced under the lights

in the huge stadium

and the Governor rode around and around waving

his hat

from the back seat of an open car

while the band played Beautiful Ohio

and my mother had told me earlier

fixing my hair in the bedroom

she hated him

the tree surgeon

and we stood in a ring and waved back

in our pink ruby yellow and white





[“Now, Children, Let Us All Rise And Sing The State Song” was originally published in Napalm Health Spa: Report 1999 (http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs99/toc.html). Reprinted by permission of the author.]



Finvola Drury (b. 1927) earned a B.A. from Empire State College and an M.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her first teaching was done as a lecturer at the Toledo Museum of Art in the forties. Subsequently she has taught Creative Writing at the University College of the University of Chicago, Rochester Institute of Technology, and at Writers & Books (Rochester, N.Y.) where she served on the Board of Directors and mentored several generation of poets. During the sixties, she chaired Wayne State University's Miles Modern Poetry Committee. Her Elegy on the Death of Joric Ross was published by the Multifarious Press in 1983. Drury’s collection of poetry, Burning the Snow was published in 1990. Her prose works include essays and journals, and an anthology of her writings is forthcoming. She now lives in Maine