Thieves Like Us

Photograph by Jose Padua
When a civilian once asked me
who in the world of poetry
do you trust, I said
no one. We are always telling
each other lies, I said, creating metaphors
for the things we’ll never be,
lines that cloak our faults and weaknesses
and turn them into the characteristics
and idiosyncrasies of warm,
sensitive beings,
and rhythms that lead our audience
to believe we are saints when we
are thieves out to steal your wives,
your boyfriends, your summer cottage,
your tickets to see Patrick Stewart
in a play by the late Harold Pinter
who although he was a playwright
had the heart of a poet
which is why we’re still keeping an eye
on him. Although I have never stolen
a wife, a ticket, or even a plot of real estate
on which stood a dilapidated brick building,
I have in the past stolen books
and sundries from unsuspecting
shopkeepers who didn’t
know I was a poet
and therefore didn’t know enough
not to trust me.
I spend my days planning
lovely thefts and robberies,
each more daring than the last
because I have so far to go
to catch up with my contemporaries.
I stand about on street corners,
looking left then right,
as if I’m waiting on a friend,
when I’m actually deciding
what to steal next.
You will know I am done
when the color of the evening
sky skips a tone on the way
from blue to dark blue.
You will know
I am gone
by the steady
beating of your broken hearts.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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