Ezio Pinza
had a great voice,
but was not a very good singer; Maria Callas
was a great singer whose voice
was undependable. We must evacuate our bowels

every day. If this cannot be done
in the natural way, then an enema can be used
in the evenings before bedtime. Marian Anderson

had the greatest voice there ever was —
there will never be one like hers again. Ringstrom, the Swede

in Seattle, a fellow sign painter, ignored his constipation
for so long that he became hopelessly
impacted. He finally burst
and died shortly thereafter, of blood poisoning. Cousin Sophie,

that inconsiderate egotist who changed her name from Sarah —
it wasn’ good enough for her — will never
be anything but a parasitic spendthrift.
She was spoiled by her father and her adulteress
mother, who would occasionally date
her daughter’s boyfriends. All fried foods,

no matter the manner fried, are bad. Hot dogs
are pure poison. Only ping-pong

among all sports is worthwhile,
provided you play it very well. Mr. Pifko,

a plain man, but with foresight,
who was already a millionaire in the forties,

said that he’d spend a thousand dollars in a moment
on anything really useful, but would not part with a dime
for what was unnecessary. It’s better to arrive on time

than to be late; it’s even better
to arrive a few minutes early, just to be sure. Jascha Heifetz

was the greatest violinist who ever lived. The same for Gregor
Piatigorsky on the cello. Driving at night can be dangerous

because it is dark; the headlights could fail
or fall off in the middle of nowhere. There’s no point

in learning a musical instrument unless, at an early age,
you display clear promise of being destined
for the world’s great concert halls. After dinner

it is better to push yourself away from the table
while you’re still a little hungry. Aunt Fanya (“Fannie”)

in Seattle was an ignorant woman, and vain — she wore a flowery
hat even when hanging out the wash to dry in the rear yard — while
Uncle Joseph was simple, gentle, and pious. Aunt Fannie
said she heard, coming from his room on the night he died,
the faint singing of angels. Maniacs

at night sometimes crouch just beyond the dark edges of woods
along dirt roads dimly lit, waiting to pounce
on children, even those gripping the hands of their fathers.