Tom Foster

Rookie (12-16-59 / Florida)

Up The Hill

Poem by Tom Foster

Sitting on a crumbling couch
Spilling toward the middle where
Bear of a man
Wraps a tube around his arm
This ain’t no
Red Cross operation or
Diabetics club and
You tell yourself you’ve
Reached the big time now
His old lady or
Somebody’s old lady cooks his fix
Twisted blackened spoon
Little of this
That burning
Turning to thick fluid
Like burnt sugar
Cottonball soaking brown
She offers up the mix
Religiously from his feet and
I knew I was in way over my head
Vernon had gone leaving
Me alone with
All these mad scarred and toothless soldiers
The needle bites
Sinks with
Unreadable face old lady plunges
Big bear’s head falls back
I count the laces on my boots
Then Granpa
Grey haired braid touching his butt
Friendly leathered face
Beaming gap tooth smile
Threw the Christmas wrapped boxes in my lap
And a small slip with address’s
To be lost later
One hour he says
A question in the form of
I assured him
An hour
No screw-ups I’d
Done this kind’a thing before
As I walked to the door
Another scabby
Old lady held out a mirror
Lines the color of cinnamon and sugar
Slashed neatly across the Budweiser logo
Maybe after I lied
Anything these people were into
Was not something for me
Just this one delivery
That’s what I told myself
Making rounds under an hour easy
No b.s.
Never any tricky stuff
With people like these
Unless you wanna permanent home
Somewhere in the high desert

As I tried to keep the
Now nodding Bear from drooling on my pants
Turning down the lady and her
Magic mixes
Nothing they could offer would bring me back

Granpa came out from a back room
Led me to the door asking after
How things went
I didn’t elaborate that’s
All he wanted to know
I was gonna tell him
That I just couldn’t do it
Anymore when he slipped a
Hundred in my hand
We’ll call he said
The door closed

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Read poems about / on: christmas, mirror, magic, people, smile, red, lost, home, alone, soldier

Poem Submitted: Saturday, November 6, 2004