When I was an eight year old boy
I saw a man shot dead at the intersection
while trying to sell newspapers.
Shot dead before also becoming a headline;
even on an eight year old boy from the boat
this is not an irony that could be lost.
The paper man’s name I don’t remember
but his hair, his hair I never forget.
Bright red by the time I saw him
bright red with blood and wet
as though from the shower he’s stepped.
Right away then I knew that standing on street corners
would be offering nothing to make a life with
but of the dead man’s wife and children, of them what?
All a waste, all for nothing and that’s the truth of him.
Very quick as an eight year old I was
very quick and becoming philosophical
but what a thing it was all the same
to see what was then happening to that man.
Put on this earth by God
and then taken to give one boy his lesson.