The Banquet Thief

HARD WORK IS ITS OWN REWARD

February in Detroit.

A kid goes door to door
asking if people
would like their snow washed.

One man looks at the corpse
of winter at the edge
of his drive and replies, How much?

The kid stares up
and to the left, shifting his mind
into calculator mode.

A million dollars, he says finally,
remembering a TV show
in which a man in a purple suit
said to a woman wearing nothing
but a mink coat, Winners aim high.

The man feels this is a lot
but is worn down
by the assault of grime.

How about I promise
to save your life one day,
the man counters.

The kid thinks of all the ways
there are to die — gunshots
on Dequindre, gunshots on Woodward,
gunshots in the bathroom — and agrees
to this unspecified moment
of deliverance.

The snow when he’s done
seems fresh fallen
from the machine of the sky.

The two of them shake hands.

I’m your angel now, the man says.

The boy wonders
if angels are real.

They’re not, the man says,
reading the boy’s mind.

Nor are these wings, he adds,
taking his coat off.

Nor are we flying, he says,
scooping the boy
into his arms and flying
away from the shadow
of their flying.

Bob Hicok, from Vinyl Poetry

CAN WE ALL JUST PUT OUR PENS DOWN NOW AND LET BOB HICOK HANDLE IT FROM HERE ON OUT PLEASE??? UUUUUUUUUUUUGH.

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