Apr/May 2002 Poetry

Two Poems

by Joe Hackworth


In The Fireworks Tent Just After Midnight

He lies quiet in his cot.
The big tent breathes
a heavy, vacant sigh,
and moonlight spills
through the broad, white stripe
that runs across the center
of the top—his chosen spot
for the warning shot.
Just in case—
no ricochet.

The paper sack with the day's take
is rolled and buried
at his feet, its contents
as cold and hard
as death.

When they come
to steal the right
to unleash glorious fire
across the sky,
to bathe their own bare corner
in color and light

they will roll under
the canvas sides, tread silent
on sawdust floors
which he shoveled and raked,
and will not understand
his fury.

They will never know
that he can see hours
into the future,

that a mother and father
will find their child's small face
mesmerized, illuminated
by the dancing light of a cheap sparkler
held at arm's length and swung
in slow, uncertain circles.


How to Move On

With hands dry
as a cardboard box,
you fill nail holes
where family portraits hung.

You sand them smooth,
roll on paint, pause
at all the hidden places
where little hands
had left their mark
in pencil.

You turn a key, the click
of a switch.

This is how you do it,
so sharp and clean
the ones who follow
won't find a trace
of your life.


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