They never robbed in the neighborhood,
but would return at 2 a.m. or so, and silent
as a cloaking fog, unload TVs from their truck,
piled them high as Stonehenge in their living room,
and always polite as refugees afraid to say
or do anything to upset their American neighbors.
Once, the family patriarch offered you a monster
system bigger than your living room wall.
You thanked him, but said your son
had already bought you a very nice one.
He tipped his battered fedora, and sauntered
back to his house, with its buzz-cut front lawn.
Hours later, their pick-up rumbled off,
on another foraging mission: washing machines,
from factory outlets, appliance stores, or private homes?
Discourteous for a church-going lady to ask.
The Lies We Tell
These are the lies we tell
to comfort a friend
whose small, skittish Sheltie
vanished during an evening
of sorcerer-dry thunderstorms:
"She'll make her way back,
just search the neighborhood
and call her name.
"The chance that a fox
or coyote took her
is more remote than venom
from a cobra
in our safe Denver streets.
"Someone found her
and will call any second,
telling you to forget
the reward you posted
on every tree and telephone pole
within two miles of your house,
and he'll bring her around
in a minute or two.
"And of course, the biggest,
most comforting lie of all:
you'll open your back door--
the door she always returned to,
when you let her into the yard--
and there she'll be, wagging
her elegant, impatient tail,
wondering what took you so long."
A Lesson in Gambling
Once, watching on TV with a friend
and his old man, as the anathema Yankees
played the Tigers, I gloated: Dean Chance
was striking out Yank after Yank.
"They can't touch this guy."
Freddy's dad, who smoked cigars
bigger than Babe Ruth's bat, got fed great,
bloody steaks by his run-off-her-feet wife,
and had guys dropping off paper bags,
and whose mugs I'd seen on post office walls,
"Blomber'll hit one out,
and the Yanks'll win the game."
Before I could reach into my first wallet,
Freddy gripped my arm and shook his head.
On the next pitch, Blomberg parked one over
the right-field fence, so short I could've put one
into the stands if I pulled it right down the line.
I sat fuming, not so much for the Yankees winning,
but that they needed to cheat, like the dumbbell-rocks
who threatened they'd make me bleed everywhere,
if I didn't let them see my math answers.
Robert Cooperman's latest collection is GO PLAY OUTSIDE ( Apprentice House). Forthcoming from Kelsay Books is A NIGHTMARE ON HORSEBACK.