Charles Joseph

Charles Joseph


Ode to the King of Spanish Hams

From a hundred and eighty paces away
I can see two men with sledgehammers
walking toward a concrete slab
covering Salvador Dali’s bones.

(A judge ordered them to fetch
a bit of DNA from one or both
of the curled ends of his mustache.)

A melting sun lingers high in the sky
dripping down on the town of Figueres
while two tourists sit in a café to feast
on a large clay dish filled with zarzuela.

(Zarzuela is a traditional Catalonian dish
of various kinds of seafood cooked
in a rich sauce. It’s somewhat like
what Parisians call bouillabaisse
but each is quite different
from the other, much like
Parisians and Catalonians are
from each other.)

Smash… Smash… Smash—go the hammers.

To Arms… To Arms… To Arms—cries a loaf of bread.

Save Him… Save Him… Save Him—pleads a crutch.

And with that, an army of champagne glasses
shaped like Marie Antoinette’s left breast
assemble and march willingly to war, to war, to war,
to defend the King of Spanish Hams.

And from this dream I wake, and think to myself:

‘If that wasn’t surreal, I don’t know what is.’

While the King of Spanish Hams
sleeps in his tomb in Figueres
pleased that his name is once again
wet on the lips of the world
as he waits for some fool
to order another fool
to crack open Pandora’s box.


Charles Joseph lives and writes deep in the heart of New Jersey. He is the author of NO OUTLET (a novel), a number of poetry chapbooks, and Chameleon Omnibus Unum 2012-2016, a collection of poems and stories. His work has appeared in various literary journals and online magazines. He is Neapolitan by way of his father’s side, and Sicilian by way of his mother’s—which makes him a lot of fun at parties and funerals. Visit him at