Wednesday, August 4, 2021


If we should see a dead man under a porch,
do we draw conclusions of murder?
Was there an evil spinster in the house with broken glass
and paint missing from the clapboards?

If the old man at the train depot
looks at us with his one good eye and snarls,
does it mean that he wishes to slit our throats
or sell our children for bread?

What if our spouses should grow flirtatious?
Does it mean they have black hearts
and live for the thrill of secrecy
at the restaurant across town?

I ask these questions, you see,
because the morning paper said the spinster’s house on Seventh
was built over a graveyard with exposed bones.
On page two was the grainy photo of a bum

whose lip was turned up as he squinted
to keep glare from his one good eye
while he lay on the bench as the Sunset Limited
carried parents and children to California for a vacation.

Page fifteen of a scandal sheet
showed a man and a woman kissing in a booth
after a fire destroyed their children
on the fifteenth floor above a fancy restaurant.

I have a story too, though an editor said it lacked credible sources.
The truth is best divined in the sky.
Only the moon knows the big picture
as it quietly rises, an omniscient, nonjudgmental eye.

The best we can do is pull ourselves out of bed
and resist rumors spread by the furnace's gossipy hiss.
We wake under the umbrella of fortune
that ignored a dead man, a hobo, and a tragic, fiery kiss.

~William Hammett

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