Peter Chapman Poetry

writing myself a holdup note

The poet finds himself in a teller's cage across from the White House in one of the city's oldest banks, making, as it turns out, about four drinks at a Christmas Party. Snow has affected turnout and diversion is accumulating.

all right buddy, put it in the bag,
it's not yours so why risk the dye,

and not theirs, but as mine, shortlived
or long, spent or buried it'll be fine, nothing

wrong with taking this step, unmasked at last,
writing this note from my held-up past

so i won't end like my father has,
never saying what i mean, or meaning what i say

this finger's a ragged nail, bit to the quick
and clever trail, figured out ahead of time
so i can try this line of work, a life aloof
concealed like this teller's shelf

There are other things I need and will have to have, other things I'll take. Thoughts, plans, private rages, and even joys, now secret to myself.

from The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich