He Said He Wasn’t a Peculiar Man

by Kent Oswald

My neighbor of twenty years, Richard Hickory Robinson Sr., said he had no son, but used a suffix to honor an offspring he had in a dream. He told me this was not his real name, but one he had lived with for nearly sixty years after hearing a song and reading the poem that inspired it. He refused to share his birth name while assuring me that he would answer honestly any real question of mine. I believed his illness was terminal, but admit that my only corroboration is what he said and how he acted. Investigating the unusual circumstances surrounding his passing, the police reported finding no evidence to suggest he died of anything but natural causes, although the coroner’s report was not persuasive as to what natural cause it could have been that left him in the state in which he was discovered. I answered that he had no known survivors when the newspaper reporter covering the story asked, but added, “at least none that anyone I still know is aware of.”


Kent Oswald instructs and learns at CUNY.