Friday Poem


Whatever it is about this poor schmuck
crashing his beater Plymouth into a light pole
then scaling a chain-link fence in socks and no shirt,
cheek bleeding, Mets cap backward
I’m not sure, but suddenly
he’s running through somebody’s yard,
and half vaulting, half falling over a trash can
he trips into the street
where he’s hit by a bus.

He scrambles up and five cops cuff him
and yank him and drag him to the flashing
black-and-white where they take care—careful—
he doesn’t bump his head getting in.
So on this mid-autumn Saturday night
it seems to be God’s way
to let this sad man stick up an all-night store
and show the whole bleak story
on the TV in front of which

in order not to think about Louise
I imagine those strange cells that move along
the bloodstream looking to colonize and multiply.
And I can see the planning and packing too,
and I picture them waving to friends and setting sail.
Adenoma she’s told me.
And I’d bet she was no more than leaning over
to pick up a key when the first cell got restless,
tying her scarf or rinsing a pear or
buying a brush when the first cell ship
steamed slowly north to a spot in her lung.
If there’s something to learn here I don’t know,
but I think of the rich cells chatting with
the handsome captain, and I imagine the poor cells
slurping soup in steerage, but even now
as the young man with the scraggly beard
and torn pants grins into the camera
I imagine it must be God’s way

to arrange that I lie on the green couch with white trim,
God’s way to arrange a magazine opened to page
eighteen, a dime by the door, a pen on the chair,
the neighbor’s dog’s now continual barking
through which I hear the last of the traffic:
a car and now another car,
a couple of semis double-clutching, one
with its cargo of ballpoints maybe, a second
with a trailer of wing nuts and canvas shoes.

by Mark Kraushaar
from The Best American Poetry, 2006
Scribner Poetry