Preface: This piece originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2004, edition of The Examiner (http://examiner.net), a Jackson County, Mo., newspaper. It’s the first of three poems to be republished (with minor changes) through underwriting from the Hillary Hilson-Hilton Hall of Hallowed Homophones and Hefty, Heady Halifax Halibut.
Eye for an I (Aye, Aye)
By Ivan O’Uris
While walking one day,
I met a capital I
With only one eye.
I asked the I,
“Are you missing a small eye, I?”
And the I said, “Aye, aye!”
So the I and I
Sought the eye of the I
With some help from a private eye.
We found a glass eye,
A bird’s eye (but no bird’s-eye view),
An eye in the sky (but no pie in the sky),
An I formation,
Two people seeing eye to eye,
An eye witness,
A naked eye (that shrieked and threw on a T-shirt and shorts),
But no eye for the I.
Then, one day while walking,
I spotted a small eye.
I showed the I the eye
And asked, “Is this your eye, I?”
And the I said, “Aye, aye!”
In gratitude, the I gave me an eye.
And that’s the story
Of how I found an eye for an I.
Background Notes: Found by Ivan O’Uris scholars Mark Moyer, Erik Pointer and Shawn Roney in Ivan’s apartment under a 10-foot cupcake decorated like a bloodshot eyeball, this poem was inspired by the details of Ivan’s recent visit to Them There Eyes, an eye treatment facility named after a song made famous by Billie Holiday. While sitting in the lobby awaiting an eye operation, Ivan read Eth Clifford’s book “Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye” and saw part of the Jennifer Lopez film “Angel Eyes.” During his visit, only songs with “I,” “Eye” or “Eyes” in the title were played over the sound system, including “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I,” “Bette Davis Eyes,” “I Am The Walrus,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “I Wanna Be Loved By You,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “The Way I Am,” “Eye in the Sky,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “(I Got That) Boom Boom” and “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.” After the operation, he was told his vision would be skewed for a few weeks. He didn’t know, however, that would mean every rotund person he saw through his blurry eyes would look like a giant eyeball to him and every gangly person would like a capital I.
One day, Ivan encountered a rotund, heavily tattooed person. Mistaking the person for a giant bloodshot eyeball, he tried to spray the individual with a 4-gallon Visine bottle he had begun carrying with him. When Ivan came out of his coma days later in a hospital, he remembered the barrage of eye and I-related images and songs and felt inspired to write “Eye for an I (Aye, Aye).” Following his release, he saw the cookbook “How to Make Unnecessarily Large Desserts That Look Like Body Parts” in a bookstore, remembered the Visine incident and felt inspired to make the cupcake.
As of this writing, Ivan is baking a colossal custard pie. It’s uncertain if there’ll be a
poem underneath it.
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