Mick: A Cdelestial Drama by Jim Kelleher

Jim Kelleher
Author photograph: Jack “Red
Sock” Sheedy

Jim Kelleher’s Mick: A Celestial Drama can be read as a novel-in-verse or performed on stage. In it, a homeless, presumably hopeless Viet Vet named Mick redeems himself with the help of St. Peter and a NYPD beat cop/Iraq vet. His failed wife and son, both in Heaven, also help. So sad and true but hopeful is all this that it has captured the imaginations of early reviewers. Alicia Ostriker has this to say: “Mick: A Celestial Drama isn’t just about a miracle—it is a miracle. How Jim Kelleher has managed to make cunning, heartbreaking and heavenly comedy out of the homeless drunk Mick living in his Maytag box, his crackhead wife, his punk son and his knocked-up daughter, I’ll never know. Maybe it’s just that Kelleher writes like an angel? Or, as St. Peter says, ‘The spirit is driving—we’re all just along for the ride.’” And this from Joan Larkin: “Jim Kelleher’s dynamic verse play, Mick: A Celestial Drama, is tough and funny, artful and accessible, heartbreaking and hopeful.
Mick: A Celestial Drama book cover
Cover photo: Jake Anderson
It’s a play of American voices––their talk, vivid as their lives, honed to bare essentials. There’s nothing extra here and nothing sentimental, though the play takes us into the deep heart of a motley cast of characters. Kelleher knows them at their best and worst. We can’t help but care about them.” Michael Waters states that “this book is impressive in its use of ordinary language and familiar baseball imagery to depict down-and-outers who, despite their lack of luck, manage to redeem themselves. In some ways the drama is classically American, yet poem by poem it manages surprises and becomes more and more affecting.”

Jim Kelleher teaches literature and composition at Northwestern Community College in Winsted, Connecticut, works in a group home to support three handicapped men, and is also a self-employed carpentry contractor. He earned an MFA degree from New England College in 2007. In former lives he was a teacher in the Boston public schools, caretaker for a summer camp, and Fillmore East usher. His first poetry collection, Quarry, was published by Antrim House in 2008. Jim Kelleher lives with Queenie Troy in Goshen, Connecticut.

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ISBN 978-1-936482-05-4

Copyright © 2011 by Jim Kelleher

6" x 9" paperback, 104 pages




Little Sister

(The Convent. Mr. Green Beans looms stage right, yells
his lines. Richie is spotlit stage left, also yelling his lines.
A gold crucifix is prominent overhead. Maureen speaks,
holding her iPod.)

I remember when my brother and me
almost got arrested. We gobbled
cherries in Stop and Shop — Richie
stuck a Bumblebee tuna down his pants.

(Richie, stage left, speaks his own lines, which
Maureen, Little Sister, merely mouths.)

Then Richie peeled an organic banana.
“I think they taste better,” he told me.
I saw Green Beans. I called him that
’cause he sprayed the lettuce and beets.

(Green Beans, stage right, also speaks his own lines,
which Maureen once again merely mouths.)

Mean Beans roared like King Kong.
He gave me hairy eyeballs — ten feet tall!

Richie yelled and pulled a salami from his jacket.
He whacked Mean Beans on his hand.
His fat thumb crooked like a dead pigeon.

Richie snatched me up and we ran.
We escaped to the East River and circled
back to Avenue D. We sneaked down
the rusty steel stairs to our boiler room.

“Don’t worry, Mo. He’s a shitty green giant.”
Richie wrapped me in his Harley jacket.
He made us tuna and salami sandwiches.
Then we both fell asleep on our mattress.


Home Run

(The Bleachers, marked by a sign over-
head and a wood bench. Props: a bat,
a ball, a Pepsi sign. Mick speaks.)

When I was sixteen
I could slam a fastball

over the Pepsi sign.
Today I can’t lift

a Louisville Slugger.
I want to forget.

I want to forget
all of it.

What I see
when I drink

is a baseball spinning —
the red seams on the ball.

I see myself
smashing it deep.

I see my team,
Billy Martin swearin’.

Get me a whiskey
and beer chaser,

get me a boilermaker.
Just get me a drink.

I can’t hit


Yasgur’s Farm: The Grateful Dead

(109th Street. Continuation of previous scene.)

Richie, I split New York in a VW bus,
dumped it four miles from Yasgur’s.
Us Fillmore crew set the stage, rigged
the sound and strobes.

I climbed the scaffold stage right,
thirty feet over monster speakers.
The crowd freaked me — hundreds of thousands
crammed in the bowl.

I dropped mescaline. I was rushing. I had to sprawl.
A French photographer
bribed me with a ball of hash. I let her up,
all the way, on my private scaffold.

The kids booed the warnings: did acid,
orange meth crystals.
Bum trips went to the med tent.
The crowd was bumming — like me. I was

full of vomit. I just held onto the pipes,
watched the Big Dipper,
thousands of tiny joints being lit in Yasgur’s meadow,
red sparks passing hand to hand.

Wake me up in the morning dew, my honey, wake me
up in the morning dew, today...

I watched Garcia pick notes, felt the crowd
settle back. The amphitheater

exhaled. Pot blew past me, so heavy, sweet —
I felt my scaffold sway in the breeze.
I was afraid they’d rush the stage, Richie —
they loved the Dead.

I kept my green Woodstock windbreaker
with its logo: the dove
on the guitar. Joe Cocker offered me a hundred for it.
What am I, stupid?


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