Today's poem is by Bob Hicok

Some Math, Some Words

A man was measured by how well he whistled
while measuring other men for suits
when I was young, or chopping wood

or executing convicts if that was his job,
men still tend to ask right away
what you do, and if you answer, erode or shiver

or collect evidence of euphoria, they don't
as a rule ask you over to watch the big game,
without a job, it's harder to steal toilet paper

or airplanes from work, people cross the street
in case your three days of beard
is contagious, I can count on one hand

to five and five on the other, that's symmetry
and the number of people I know
who've been out of work for three years, three

times ten is thirty years of unemployment
collectively, twelve times six is seventy-two
in case this is a test, I don't want to tell them

they're expendable, so I didn't just type that,
that one person's about as important
as a falling leaf in Milwaukee is

to the trees of Rue Extrordinaire in Paris,
I just come around and sit among
their broken coffee makers and children,

their no-name cancers and beer, we play cards,
we throw stones at the sky and miss, I go home
and make love with my pay stubs

and kiss my mortgage good-night, there
but for the god of grace, bless your countings,
knock on wood, why wood?

Copyright © 2014 Bob Hicok All rights reserved
from the Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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