Never again I always say when salesmen come around. This might have clinched it though.
To the Magazine Salesman Who Threw My Poetry Book in the Bushes
Listen you solicitor scoundrel,
who trespassed onto my property last week,
with your sweet talking pitch,
how you want to be a radio announcer
and are earning points to travel to England
to audition for the BBC.
You, with your laminated card asking for feedback,
whether you were friendly and articulate,
me thinking all the while I was helping you
with public speaking.
It worked at first,
the story you most likely made up
about your Marine Corps father who thinks
you are a deadbeat,
that you are trying to prove him wrong
immediately had me in your corner,
who doesn’t want to help one up the man
who barks orders at someone at the breakfast table.
Sure you liked my hair
and then liked my hair again
and think it is awesome I have lots of kids
like your own momma with her generous heart.
I was so happy to give you a great rating,
was ready to track down your dad,
tell him how brave you are for approaching strangers,
even when you flipped the card over and
there was the dreaded list of magazines you pitched,
three years for seventy dollars,
we’d just finished with Outside,
every other week one would sit by the toilet
Nonetheless, I trusted you
especially when you wrote down your phone number,
said your dad told you not to take charity
and offered to work off the subscription price.
I gave you a book I wrote thinking you might actually read it,
you told me you wrote poetry after all.
But you didn’t do that, you rounded the bend
and tossed my gift on the side of the road in plain view,
so that my thirteen-year-old son
walking home from the bus stop
found it, scuffed, dirty on the corner,
“someone threw away your book”
he said and handed it to me,
he knew right off, even though I lied
that it must have fallen out of my car.
Suddenly your story of living a few neighborhoods over,
your parents, the BBC, it all soured and sank,
rather I bet you were born out of Cyclops’s bulging eye
and bussed back to some magazine mogul pimp’s
crack house where you traded stories of suckered housewives.
I was tempted to call to tell you to have some manners,
at least coach you to use my book as collateral,
you asked after the neighbors and if I knew them by name,
you could have showcased it, your custom clipboard,
fudged that I was a famous writer just down the street
and golly, she bought a magazine, hell, tell them I’d bought two.
How could I explain to my son,
who has not yet seen me sell a book,
that someone didn’t even bother
to tuck it in a trashcan or chuck it in the bushes.
I will share you,
not as a model of upstart entrepreneurism,
not a bootstrap kind of story,
but about respect,
like you could have had.
I will mention you
when my boy has to hold onto
his faith in humanity
or overcome his self-doubt,
as I had to,
that moment I saw my soiled book.