Bart Edelman

The Pied Piper

When we pied the piper, last spring;
He was less than pleased.
Seemed he’d definitely had it
With this current gig of his.
He wanted to trade in his flute,
Seek new employment possibilities,
Pursue more lucrative work,
As long as it didn’t involve rats—
Or rodents of any kind, whatsoever.
Children were, of course, another matter.

Once he’d cleaned the meringue
Off his tired, weather-beaten face,
We felt sorry for our cruel actions
And ordered him a cold beer,
Which he downed in nothing flat.
He was one very thirsty dude,
Who kept drinking and drinking,
Halfway through the night—
While we kept him afloat.

In the morning we woke him up
And told him he’d best be on his way—
For a host of obvious reasons.
We begged him not to reveal
How we’d surely contributed
To the previous evening’s debauchery.
He shrugged, took it in stride,
Grabbed his flute and was gone,
By the time we ate breakfast.

Today, the piper’s whereabouts are a mystery.
The rumor mill is rife with reports,
Though none appear to be reputable.
The town’s divided, left and right,
Wondering if he originally got a raw deal;
You know, with the rats and all—
And then not being paid for his services.
I guess that would piss me off, too.
A majority of the parents remain sore,
But it makes sense given the circumstances.


Bart Edelman’s poetry collections include Crossing the Hackensack (Prometheus Press), Under Damaris’ Dress (Lightning Publications), The Alphabet of Love (Red Hen Press), The Gentle Man (Red Hen Press), The Last Mojito (Red Hen Press), The Geographer’s Wife (Red Hen Press), and Whistling to Trick the Wind (Meadowlark Press). He has taught at Glendale College, where he edited Eclipse, and, most recently, in the MFA program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. His work has been anthologized in textbooks published by City Lights Books, Harcourt Brace, Longman, McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Simon & Schuster, the University of Iowa Press, and others. He lives in Pasadena, California.