Dorianne Laux


Aim above morality.
               -Ruth Gordon, Harold and Maude

Steal something worthless, something small,
every once in a while. A lighter from the counter
at the 7-eleven. Hold that darkness in your hand.
Look straight into the eyes of the clerk
as you slip it in your pocket, her blue
bruised eyes. Don't justify it. Just take
your change, your cigarettes, and walk
out the door into the snow or hard rain,
sunlight bearing down, like a truck, on your back.
Call it luck when you don't get caught.
Breathe easy as you stand on the corner,
waiting, like everyone else, for the light to change,
following the cop car with your eyes
as it slowly rolls by, ignoring the baby
in its shaded stroller. Don't you want
something for nothing? Haven't you suffered?
Haven't you been beaten down, condemned
like a tenement, gone to bed hungry, alone?
Sit on a stone bench and dig deep for it,
touch your thumb to the greased metal wheel.
Call it a gift from the gods of fire.
Call it your due.