The window opens onto a sky shot with smoke,
and outside a man falls screaming before a truck.

A summer suicide? A push? A trip?
Only his neighbors know for sure, and they

are out scouring the street for his shoes,
which are under your bed, their flat black tips poking

out like clumsy kittens. They are just your size,
so you slip them on and shuffle off to join the search,

but wind up at a Pizza Hut with the victim’s mother,
celebrating the end of the week by ordering cokes

and a pie with the works. To go. There’s so much
to talk about, you can’t agree on a subject,

and when she insists on being objective about your
appetite, you balk at paying the check,

claim poverty and grief, swear you’re not
the man she thinks you seem to be.

You stand on your head just to prove it,
but she only laughs, tells you to be a good boy

and roll over, then jabs a thermometer
up your butt, says that’s what mothers are for.

Too tired to argue the finer points
of filial relations, you accept the feverish

hand that has fed you this day. Indeed,
you’re almost happy that accidents can happen

this way, over lost shoes, cheap food, and cheaper talk,
the cheap tricks out of which you’ve made your life.

Chris Semansky | Mudlark No. 20
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