Thursday, June 4, 2009
My grandfather’s correspondence contesting an erroneous charge with Wallace Stevens, Vice President of the Hartford Insurance Company and influential Modernist poet (winner of the National Book Award for Poetry in 1951 and 1955).
W. Stevens

Dear Mr. Stevens;

After exchanging letters with your customer service department, they have instructed me to write to you directly.

As you will see from the attached copy of a recent invoice, I have been erroneously charged by my hospital for a series of X-rays, which, as you will note from the attached copy of my policy, my insurance clearly covers.

Please contact me or my hospital at your earliest convenience and advise them of this error.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Will C. Smith

* * *

TO: Will C. Smith
FROM: Wallace Stevens
RE: The insides of you

Mr. Smith

This is the supremest fiction, oola-loo!
The essence of the rendezvous.
And while we must admit of the invisibility of perspicacity
The disintegration of an X-ray machine is but a winged harmonium
At the end of a long dry beach.

Wallace Stevens
Vice President
Hartford Insurance Company

* * *

Dear Mr. Stevens,

Please find attached a very strange letter that I have just received on your stationary.

I still, however, have not received a response to my initial letter concerning the X-rays that I am being charged for by my hospital. I have attached a copy of that letter, and its attachments, to this letter as well.

Please advise.

Will C. Smith

* * *

Dear Mr. Smith,

Seven small giraffes, accompanied by a blue baboon
Stare indifferently at the wind
And like a necessary angel
They think they are like a candle in a churchyard
A churchyard made of the ribcages of giraffes

Very Truly Yours,
Wallace Stevens
Vice President
Ha Ha Hartford Company of Insurance

* * *

Dear Mr. Whack-job

Today an X-ray machine and a real live giraffe were delivered to my house, with a note reading “Compliments of the Hartford Insurance Company.” It was signed “Mr. Wallace Baboon.”

Meanwhile, my hospital still has not been paid. They are threatening to refuse future service.

Mr. Stevens, is there someone else I can contact about this? Someone, I don’t know, who’s not insane?

Will C. Smith

* * *

Baboon, Ba-soon, Ba-livar,

Among the vicissitudes of the Victrola and the violets
His green gum tree grew
And grew and grew and grew loquacious
About the spent emotions of devotions
And the destitutions of Spring.

With a hey nonny no!

Weltering Watering Westerly Wandering Wallace
Present where Hottentots are Insolent

* * *

Hey, Crazy Guy,

In an effort to, as they say, make lemons from lemonade, I have sold the X-ray machine to the hospital, which more than covered the cost of my X-rays. Both the hospital and I consider this matter now closed.

The giraffe however has become slightly more problematic. As you, or rather, as any sane person, might expect, my home is not zoned for the domestication of African quadrupeds.

I have, however, contacted my lawyers about any possible litigation against you in this matter. Please advise. No, wait, don’t.

Very truly yours,
Will C. Smith

* * *

Dear Mr. Giraffe,

The sun is a lemon and also not a lemon. On this we can merely agree. But nearby, there is a river full of rivets that is riven with ravens, where I, like a jar on a hill in Appalachia, oscillate between the obvious and the obscene. And from the bank, the Negro screams “Scene One—Avoiding the Ovoid” while the limpid boatman languishes, liquidly.


* * *

Dear Lunatic,

The lemons you sent arrived today. Three truckloads dumped Florida’s finest at the end of my driveway. While I was trying to figure out what the fuck to do with eight tons of lemons, the giraffe started eating them. Did you know that lemons are a diuretic? So now my neighborhood reeks of lemon-scented giraffe urine.

Thank you for what cannot even very remotely be called “help.”


P.S. Congratulations on winning the National Book Award, by the way. I picked up a copy of your book with some of the proceeds from the X-ray machine. You should stick to insurance.

* * *


Bite me.

Martin Bihl was born the year William Faulkner died, which his therapist insists is just a coincidence. O.K., Mr. Smarty-pants. How about Ernie Kovacs? He died THAT VERY SAME YEAR! And Marilyn Monroe too, what about her? Or what about Leonardo da fucking Vinci? Got an explanation for that? I didn’t think so, you pathetic Freudian fake. I hate you, Mr. Therapist. I wish you would die. No, I don’t. I love you. Please don’t ever leave me. (You can contribute to Martin’s confusion by contacting him at

The Internal Monologue of Someone Looking for Waldo Nothing like Waldo, Cave man, Sort of Waldo, Nothing like Waldo, Mass amount of people wearing red and blue ...
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