from Twenty-Three to Twenty-One
"46 E. 74th st. New York
Oct 5th, 1881.
Hon. Chester A. Arthur
you have gone
So much the better
they say you are coming back again
New York is the one spot on the continent
where you positively ought not to be this fall
If your private affairs require attention,
show your patriotism in letting them suffer"
"Stay in Washington"
"You cannot longer claim
the privacy of an ordinary citizen"
"You might sit in your library,
with locked doors, all day,
& it would not prevent every
in town from ringing your bell"
You are not
"the Mr. Arthur who used to run
"the machine" in New York!"
"The Mr. Arthur in Washington
is another person--- & the sooner
he makes the county understand it,
the happier it will be for all parties"
"And now are you thinking
that I am insanely conceited
for giving you such a avalanche of my ideas?"
"it is because we are strangers,
because our paths have never crossed
& are not likely ever to meet,
while taking an intense interest in politics,
I have no political ties"
"I intend to go on having faith in you"
P.S. Oct 8th" "do you take any care of your health?"
"You have been under a great nerve strain for months past"
"if the health is neglected, the break down is certain to come---
and when it comes, it is not easily mended"
"may I say one thing more?"
It is my divine hope
that Postmaster Jones will remain
"The public does not insist
that you keep Garfield's cabinet,
but if there is one man it wants you to keep,
he is the one"
"With the best hopes & wishes for your future
Sincerely your friend,
[Julia I. Sand]"
You and I are in agreement on Mr. James
But unfortunately I cannot order him
to remain in the position of Postmaster General;
all I can do is re-nominate him
and try to persuade him to accept
I would address other sections of your letter,
but I have to prepare my speech
for the Yorktown Centennial celebration
"[1881 Oct 27]
Hon. Chester A. Arthur.
What a splendid Henry V you are making!
Excuse me for coming back
from the other world to say so,
but---odd as it may seem---
you are the only person
to whom I can talk on the subject"
"I told you I had faith in you,
but I never mentioned it to anyone else"
"I shall not have the satisfaction
of saying to anyone
There, I told you so!
And that is hard"
"for you threaten to become popular"
And such a state of affairs has come about
because of your performance at Yorktown
"Your speech there was beautiful
It was perfect, not a word
to add, to alter, to omit"
"Persons not inclined to admire you
are ready to admit that
you have excellent taste & tact"
"the sweet-scented flowers which spring
from the root of true sentiment & deep feeling"
Being the educated man you are,
I am certain you know that
"in the best regulated courts of old,
dwarfs always were privileged characters",
and being your dwarf
"I may say all the unpleasant things I choose"
"may I not?"
Here is the unpleasant thing
I have to say at this time:
"Don't have your old friend Grant much around you"
"I believe that
you have some of that power of growth in you
Grant has not"
"If you are really fond of him---
there is no accounting for tastes!---
keep him as a friend to smoke segars with"
"but don't consult him on national affairs"
[Julia I. Sand]
46 E. 74th st. New York.
Oct 27th 1881."
I did indeed know of dwarfs at courts,
and though the Executive Mansion is not
the sort of court that is referred to,
and though you are not in residence
at what passes for a court in America,
I am pleased to consider you
the dwarf of my administration,
though such designation will remain unofficial
Author's notes: These two poems are from Twenty-Three to Twenty-One, so titled because a woman named Julia Sand wrote 23 letters to Chester Arthur, the 21st President of the United States (all but the first while he was president). These two poems consist of excerpts from her letters, with some re-arranging and occasional bridges written by the poet to accommodate the re-arranging, along with his imagined responses by Arthur (there is no remaining record of any response he may have made to her).
© Michael Ceraolo
Bio: Michael Ceraolo is a 61-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had two full-length books (Euclid Creek, from Deep Cleveland Press; 500 Cleveland Haiku, from Writing Knights Press) and several shorter-length books published, and has two more full-length books forthcoming: Euclid Creek Book Two from unbound content press, and Lawyers, Guns, and Money from Writing Knights Press.