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Since 1996 Volume XXI


Zachary Rogow
 

Zack Rogow is the author, editor, or translator of twenty books or plays. His seventh book of poems, My Mother and the Ceiling Dancers, was published by Kattywompus Press. He is the editor of an anthology of poetry of the U.S.A., The Face of Poetry, published by University of California Press. Currently he teaches in the low-residency MFA in writing program at the University of Alaska Anchorage and serves as poetry editor of Catamaran Literary Reader.

Why Do Fools Fall In Love? 

Ever heard of Herman Santiago?

Neither had I. But Id heard the song

he co-wrote with Jimmy Merchant:

Ooh wah, ooh wah,

Ooh wah, ooh wah,

Why do fools fall in love?

Why do birds sing so gay

And lovers await the break of day

Why do they fall in love?

 

Herman Santiago never earned a dime

on that #1 record he wrote at age fifteen

while attending a junior high

three subway stops past Harlem.

Frankie Lymon, the thirteen-year-old

who recorded the song for the group

because Herman had a sore throat that day,

Frankie Lymon claimed he wrote it,

nudged by the producer, George Goldner,

who swiped the credit for co-writing it.

 

Herman Santiago sang the ooh wahs behind Frankie Lymon

till The Teenagers broke up two years later.

When Herman and Jimmy asked for royalties

for the song they had written

a record company exec threatened to kill them.

 

Herman Santiago ended up living in his Chevy.

Jimmy Merchant drove a cab in Queens for years.

How did they feel when they heard their song

on the radio, covered by Diana Ross,

the Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell?

I know a fool, you see,

For you know that fool is me.

 

Frankie Lymon pimped

at age ten. He married three women

without divorcing the first two.

Frankie died at twenty-six. Of an

overdose. His three wives squabbled in court

over the rights to the song,

till George Goldner finally came clean

on the witness stand

and admitted their fraud.

 

The judge awarded millions to the rightful authors.

Justice was done.

End of story.

 

But the wives appealed

and won in court. The statute of limitations

had left home. The money

went back to the frauds and their heirs.

 

I ask you, who does this world belong to?

Why do birds sing so gay

And lovers await the break of day

Why do they fall in love?

 

 

Copyright, Zachary Rogow.
All Rights Reserved.