Dear Ralph Lauren,

Might I, if there's one in stock, be sent the

Ralph Lauren Winchester Tote

shaped like the feedbags I've seen strapped on the

fierce muzzles of the horses in pictures

childen are shown to depict

for them how tasks, such as the

feeding of horses, were accomplished in

the Old West. As you

know, the weave of the wool

of the Winchester Tote

is gun—check plaid, so please don't confuse my

order with permission to

perform the background check you would need were

you selling me a gun, Ralph Lauren, or

with the booth where I would check

mine as I would, say, my

coat, entering a restaurant. I would

not relinquish it,

as some would prefer to

hold their fur in their lap

as they dine than leave it in strangers' hands

and what's more, you may not look

into my past, Ralph Lauren, and I will

not look into yours, though I note that the

plaid known as gun—check consists

of infinite weaved stairways

leading up and up and up and atop

not even one small

refined wool landing stands

a screener who would stop

either of us from climbing. Isn't this

the tartan of our clan, Ralph

Lauren? In a picture, I saw your dog,

Rugby, seated in the passenger seat

of your Jaguar and I dream

I'm holding him on my lap

as we're waived through the unmanned tollbooths of

the Jersey Turnpike.

You know the system; we

need not pay until we

exit. Do you mind if I call you Dad?
You can call me "Little Sure
Shot," as Sioux Chief Sitting Bull called Annie
Oakley when he adopted her. And there's
something else called "Annie," Dad;
a complimentary train
ticket with a hole pre—punched through the list
of destinations
is named "Annie" for the
tiny holes she shot through

the decks of playing cards that Buffalo

Bill dealt one by one into

the dusty air and I wonder if the

turnpike ticket in the glove compartment's

likewise pre—clocked. Does it

make you sad to know Annie

Oakley was not Annie Oakley's real name?

Where do we stand when

pseudonyms take nicknames,

like my real father, for

instance, who was born Abraham and called

Dad my whole life and Hank by

my mother was named for the forefather

Abram whose name was changed by God, whose real

name may never be uttered,

as yours may not be, but how

safely written here in the ghetto of

these parentheses

(Lifshitz). (Polo by Ralph

Lifshitz). Often I wake

from this dream clutching an apocryphal

book of the Bible in which Adam

brands the animals. At home in the Ralph

Lauren Home Collection the walls of my

childhood bedroom are painted

Winchester Grey for my real

father's unloaded shotgun that stood for

him in the guestroom

closet. I'm already

riding shotgun with it

with Rugby asleep on my lap in your

silver Porsche 550

Spyder, designed by the first son of the

designer of Hitler's Volkswagen, so

you might as well adopt me.

The top's down and as the wolf

lowers into the Spyder, the Spyder

enters the vein, vain

enters glory and I

enter the country club

with you through the glory hole that is the

hidden opening which that

unseen ball the Polo Player on your

logo is always chasing always just

rolled through. Furious divots

stipple the polo grounds and

I feared the forward waving his mallet

like a tomahawk

until you told me the

logo is based on me

merely hailing a cab. Why, Dad, do you

translate me so tormented,

so raving, driving my muddy pony

with death spurs and blood on my stick. This is

a brutal way to sell shirts.

I've never seen a button—

down as beautiful as the one you lost.

I remember when

you lowered it to half—

mast on Labor Day, but

every day is Labor Day and the shop

(don't make me say your heart) is

open, open, open. The wind flogging

the white flag of your flapping shirt makes it

appear to have a man in it.

 
 
fcny