Brothers George & Glenn McElroy are considered the
Stradivariuses of ventriloquist figure makers. It’s estimated
that only 30 of their creations from the 1930/40s exist today.
Palimpsest of fingerprints
on a legacy of head sticks
& levers from master
machinist & artist brother--
intricate doings lying
in wait for the flash
& the flaunt.
Candies & cakes pale
next to Jacko the talking monkey,
wild elf atop Russian hurdy gurdy--
he’s another Cadillac of a dummy,
Fabregé of sweet gears.
Magical apparatus these
strange gifts, temporal &
timeless, every McElroy
offspring: Cecil, Ollie,
Dudley & Troll, man-sized
animatronic named Umpire.
Poetry in hacksaw & sander,
monkey business in eyes
crossing, ears wiggling,
tongues sticking out.
In the museum Jacko poses--
parody in an organ grinder’s suit,
for a full moon’s treetop.
All Figure Makers step back,
leave us to the clockwork
of our days, vulnerable
machines in silence.
[Señor Wences] was the one who… stopped using
a dummy, which is the gutsiest thing you can do
in a ventriloquist act. That’s like Metallica coming
out and doing something a cappella.
—Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller
By s’awright s’awright I mean Monday
morning after Ed Sullivan Sunday nights,
when our geography class was a ping-pong
salsa of s’awrights until Mr.Kaminsky
scowled with detention threats.
By s’awright s’awright I mean Spanish
clouds of tilde that didn’t need a joke to
float. Etcetera his territorial tract with
a wacky swivel chair of voices.
We cottoned to his weird decoys--
feisty falsetto, box of severed head,
mundane scraps of conversation with
a lipsticked hand.
By s’awright s’awright I mean a matador
with a meringue cape dispatching cigarette
smoke rings & spinning plates teetering
atop flamingo legs, ees bery nice.