The Lucky Criminals
By Kevin Prufer
We are not equal to our criminals. A raftful floats by every day,
dainty blue canopies flaring in the breeze. Cigarettes dangling
from downturned mouths, eyes screwed to the shore -
the criminals are slim and beautiful, draped
in their lawnchairs so their fingers leave trails in the river water.
They are sentimental and lean, shirtless and droop-eyed.
Oh to dig my tired toes into the soft mud of the bank,
the pickpocket says. To drop coins in the river and retrieve them,
to retrieve all the coins that have ever been dropped in the river.
The others are silent, smoke leaking from their mouths. Wishes
are everything to criminals, and the burl of black clouds over the trees
is unimportant. My father was buried with a mouthful
of stolen gems, the con-man replies, swiping his guitar. I dug
one hundred holes in the yard before I found them. The black clouds
curl into mouths that rustle the trees. Around their feet,
fifteen bags of coins. The hacker picks his golden teeth, the falsely accused
stares hungrily to our shore. Our women are in love with criminals.
They have the soft glow of lamplight on pavement on clear nights after rain.
How we envy criminal ambition. We are strung like pearls
on the weedy shore, white-faced and furious as they pass.
Our dinner burns, our children cry, and the wind cools
as the storm sweep over. Justice, justice, we call to them.
But the long-fingered criminals in their gorgeous swimsuits,
the lawless with their guns draped over their chairs, the shifty-eyed
and doomed with bare chests, the exciting - they'll never notice us.