July 21, 1861

 

Senators and Representatives and others

traveled the twenty-five miles to Bull Run

near Manassas, Virginia,

equipped with picnic lunches

and opera glasses to watch the battle

It promised to be an intriguing Sunday outing:

duty for some of the picnickers,

curiosity for many of the others,

though most expected a decisive victory

in what they thought would be a short war

But that was not to be,

for much blood was shed, on both sides:

almost nine hundred killed,

almost twenty-six hundred wounded

The Union troops fled back to Washington

along with the picnickers

Some politicians tried to stop the fleeing troops,

though one Senator,

Henry Wilson of Massachusetts,

proved his worthiness for the Vice-Presidency

he would attain a decade late

by giving sandwiches to some of the fleeing troops

 

 

 

July 1, 1893

 

After arriving in Jersey City

after ten in the evening the night before,

President Cleveland told the reporters

"I have nothing to say for publication,

                                                       except

that I am going to Buzzards Bay for a rest"

He most assuredly did not tell them that,

while traveling on the yacht Oneida,

he would be undergoing surgery

to remove a cancerous mass

(pulled teeth would be the cover story

disseminated by the physicians

so the President could maintain

his reputation for truth-telling)

A reporter who broke the story on August 29th

would be savaged by Cleveland's supporters,

and Cleveland would die fifteen years later

with the secret surgery still unexposed

and his reputation for honesty intact

It would be almost a decade after his death

that one of the doctors involved,

with the permission of Cleveland's widow,

told his story of what had happened on this date,

while at the same time praising

"the instant decision of Mr. Cleveland . . .

to keep the operation a profound secret"

 

Michael Ceraolo

 

Bio:  Michael Ceraolo is a 62-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) published, and has two more (Euclid Creek Book Two,from unbound content press; Lawyers, Guns, and Money, from Writing Knights Press) in the publication pipeline.