The Colgate Scene
May 2004

The poet returns

Mr. Not So Wells

"Last Thursday, Mr. Wells walked into a PNC Bank two miles from the pizza shop where he worked, pulled up his shirt to show a bomb locked to his neck, and demanded money....The state police pulled him over a few hundred feet from the bank parking lot. But as the police waited for a bomb squad to arrive, the device around Mr. Wells's neck exploded, blasting a wallet-size hole in his chest. He died sitting cross-legged in the street."

    — N.Y. Times, September 5, 2003

I am thinking of you,
Mr. Wells. I am thinking of what's been done
to you -- the kind of man
who'd get down on his knees
to play with a neighbor's dog.
It's a shame pizza delivery work
doesn't allow you to update
your frames, and what are we
supposed to say in passing
if we're not to speak
of mystery novels and lawn mowers'
engines? You're in no position
to ask now. Who are you, entertainer
of your widowed mother? Were steak dinners
and t.v. movies your idea?
"He was simple," says a 15-year-old authority on simplicity.
Some of us didn't even know
how to navigate the internet
until four years ago,
and we're called precious.
You were a high school dropout,
(not the only one),
and you were only modestly capable
as a mechanic, like most of us at most things.
The collar was sophisticated.
The reporter implies
that the man who wore it was not.
Take priests -- "Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien
didn't report hitting Jim Reed..."
Criminals in Colombia use the devices
not high school dropouts
in the U.S. Your real crime as victim
was your lack of interest in money.
You didn't complain about being poor,
and that's the very definition
of a mediocre Capitalist. You were proud,
offered a meal
you'd reluctantly take a cookie.
You'd have breakfast at Mickey Ds, get a newspaper.
What did any of us do this morning?
The final blow a loud pop, didn't even crack a single
window in the eyeglass store.
Maybe if you'd lived, if the cops had responded
quick enough to your plea to get it off,
Kari Edkin, in the eyeglass store,
who couldn't believe someone so common
so confused could attract
so many, would have gotten you
a new pair of frames,
and then there'd really be something to write about --
Man Gets Make Over:
Mother Doesn't Recognize Him.
Details at five.

© Jennifer Kietzman 2004

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