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Syndic Literary Journal

The Green Street Mortuary Marching Band

Narrated by Charles Rammelkamp


The Green Street Mortuary Band


The Green Street Mortuary Band

marches right down Green Street

and turns into Columbus Avenue

where all the café sitters at

the sidewalk café tables

sit talking and laughing and

looking right through it


as if it happened every day in

little old wooden North Beach San Francisco

but at the same time feeling thrilled

by the stirring sound of the gallant marching band

as if it were celebrating life and

never heard of death


And right behind it comes the open hearse

with the closed casket and the the

big framed picture under glass propped up

showing the patriarch who

has just croaked


And now all seven members of

the Green Street Mortuary Marching Band

with the faded gold braid on their

beat-up captains’ hats

raise their bent axes and

start blowing all more or less

together and

out comes the Onward Christian Soldiers like

you heard it once upon a time only

much slower with a dead beat


And now you see all the relatives behind the

closed glass windows of the long black cars and

their faces are all shiny like they

been weeping with washcloths and

all super serious

like as if the bottom just dropped out of

their private markets and

there’s the widow all in weeds, and the sister with the

bent frame and the mad brother who never got through school and

Uncle Louie with the wig and there they all are assembled together

and facing each other maybe for the first time in a long time but their

masks and public faces are all in place as they face outward behind

the traveling corpse up ahead and oompah oompah goes the band

very slow with the trombones and the tuba and the trumpets and the

big bass drum and the corpse hears nothing or everything and it’s a

glorious autumn day in old North Beach if only he could have lived

to see it. Only we wouldn’t have had the band who half an hour later

can be seen straggling back silent along the sidewalks looking like

hungover brokendown Irish bartenders dying for a drink or a last






Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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