out of work,
out of workman’s compensation,
he works a paper route.
Seven days a week at six a.m.,
he places the papers gently.
Never lobs them,
never leaves them in the dewy lawn .
He abides every instruction:
If the Buick is gone, leave the paper on the porch.
Throw it over the dogs, if they’re out.
Come on in, help yourself to some coffee.
He delivers his papers to people:
Dusty. Double D. Agnes. Herbie.
He knows about their kids–
how many they have,
how often they visit.
They know how he takes his coffee, black.
Husband of Sue.
Father of three.
Retired machine operator,
with bad back, neck, knees.
a man measured in more than column inches, rides a Harley without a helmet, drives his mother to her appointments, and has two Shih Tzu, Zed and Dude.
Little do they know
about the Thursdays
before the dumpsters roll through,
when he works over the trash waiting to be collected.
He collects the remnants of lives discarded, and leaves newspapers in exchange for their VCRs, lawn chairs, trinkets.
He takes his coffee black and quick
and returns to his route. He’s home by 7 to help his wife off to work.
In with her sandwich, a note
scratched out on a purple Post-it:
Tonight, you will have a present waiting, my love.
by Autumn Konopka