On the Back Page
Patrick Lawrence O'Keeffe
Yesterday’s Register spread out
under fresh tray of cat litter
turns up news on the back page.
Dwight Rawlins. Survived by wife Lucile.
Two children. Three grandchildren.
All in Sandusky. A half-sister in Tulsa.
Dwight Rawlins. Last seen
through a man-door square of glass
as we made sure he left the premises.
Sat a while in his car—door ajar--
on the edge of a worn vinyl seat
legs hanging out as if steel-toe shoes
were somehow stuck to the asphalt space
he’d parked on for thirty-seven years.
“We should call the cops--
what if he’s got a real gun?”
While crooning a Johnny Cash hit suddenly
he’d pulled a twenty-two caliber pistol
from his pants—a starter’s gun--
emptied all its blanks into the air.
Humanity scattered. Scurried for cover behind
machinery and a stack of wooden pallets.
“It was only a joke,” he exclaimed
arms out—workman hands pleading.
Tears flooded the crags of old cheeks
and turned tired blue eyes
enlarged through safety lenses
into running sores.
That day we never did call the cops.
Dwight never did come back in and kill us all.
He finally just folded his legs up
closed the car door and drove home.
He no longer sees
with magnified blue eyes.
Those workman hands no longer work.
Toothy mouth no longer sings
those old Johnny Cash songs.
In his place empty space rings