Stubble grays out his thick chin.
On skinny, windmill legs, sticks too thin
to support the hefty gut he covers with vertical stripes,
he tornados through the living room, the kitchen.
He makes a sandwich too wide for his mouth.
Away from the thick burlap sacks, dollar signs
painted on the sides, my father bumbles and tilts.
His pistols with impossible barrels stay holstered.
If he does fire—in brief, inconsequential argument
with my stepmother, or upon discovering
I’ve eaten all the salami—no mortar, no dust falls.
He leaves the black mask in the ceramic dish
near the front door, with his keys and whatever coin
she’s picked up during the day. He doesn’t work,
so God knows where he gets them. Wishing wells,
shaken vending machines, the neighbor’s sofa cushions.
Still, I’ve come to enjoy him in the moments
before the thick-whiskered sheriff shows up,
brandishing a five-pointed badge and exaggerated stutter,
before justice gives chase and they leap over the sofas,
crash through windows, wind through paved streets
with dust clouds behind them. He’ll be gone
so much in the coming years, amassing those sacks,
and all for naught—some cartoon hedge fund manager
with a bulbous nose and giant wolf-teeth
will have stamped the dollar sign on satchels of coal,
saddlebags full of baubles and costume jewelry.
Ross White is the director of Bull City Press, an independent publisher of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The author of two chapbooks, How We Came Upon the Colony (Unicorn Press, 2014) and The Polite Society (Unicorn Press, 2017), he teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, New England Review, Poetry Daily, Tin House, and The Southern Review, among others. He is the poetry editor of Four Way Review. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswhite.