Tuesday Poem


What happens when an old black man,
Toothless and raggedy,
Walks into a bank, catches
Some young, white, middle-manager’s ear
With a slurred tale of coins
Hoarded from his wife and kids
(Who would only have spent them),
Leftovers from various hits
On the numbers, plus
God knows how many
Easy deceptions.

If you were this man, what
Would you do with this true believer
Who has walked through the door
Of your bank, fired up
With what he has pulled off,
Knowing that on some non-verbal level
He has encoded you
(Or someone like you)

As kindred, that only you
(Or someone like you)
Could understand this type
Of fidelity. And somehow
He guides you to the door
And through the glass you see
The trunk of this man’s car,
My father’s car, its springs
Low and ripe as the apricots
Sweetening on his tree
At home. He wants to give you

The weight he has built, penny
By penny. He wants you to lift
Away what you first thought of him,
Bag by precious. And he wants
You to do it, now.

by Carnelius Eady
from The Gathering of my Name
Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1991