Old Mc Donald [Had a Farm]

by Joseph Anthony Hunt

When I worked for the Nobel Prize committee,
they gave me a Visa card,
a rain slicker, and fifteen weeks
to find the man
who wrote “Old McDonald [Had a Farm].”

“We want to give him the Nobel Prize.”
“For literature?”
“For literature, chemistry, peace,
it doesn’t matter.”

“Ee,” he said.
“Aye,” he said.
“Oh.”
And then he sighed—
an eighteen-second sigh.
I’d never heard anyone sigh for so long before.

I couldn’t leave soon enough.

I slept that night in the Nobel Prize Hotel.
At 2:30 a.m., the telephone rang.
“Have you left yet?”
“No.”
“You’ll find a taxicab outside the lobby,
continental breakfast in the backseat,
and slippers, underneath your bed.”
I went first to Oregon, Klamath Falls,
the city I was born in.
There, there are lots of farms,
with a quack quack here
and a quack quack there.

I met a man, at Country Villa candy store
(which also sells petroleum).
“I hear you’re looking for Shiloh McCarthy.”
“Who?” I said.
He pulled out a gun.
“Get into the car.”

The car was a’79 Cadillac Seville,
black, with leather interior, anti-lock brakes . . .
“Calm yourself,” the man spoke.
“The revolver is merely to emphasize my point.
It’s not even loaded—see?
My moustache isn’t real, either.”
I nodded.

“Shiloh McCarthy is the man whom you seek,
the man who wrote the song you know so well.
I am Emil, emissary of the Catholic Church.”

“But why?” I said.
“The Church desires to make him a saint.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yes,” he said.
“This is no joke.”
I licked -y lips with my tongue
and rolled my eyes backwards,
to think.

“To be a saint,” I said,
“you have to be dead.”
“Yes, for one year.”
“Hm. Then he’s dead?”
“Yes.”
(I didn’t know if Nobel prizes
could be given to dead people.)
“Hm.”

“We’ve been studying his life
in this vicinity for two months.”
“Hm.”
“So far, ‘things are looking up,’
as they say.”

“To be a saint,” I said,
“you have to do three miracles.”
“Yes,” he said.
“What were his miracles?”
“Er” he said.
“Aye,” he said.
“Oh.”