Featured Poem 3/17/02:

The Message

Somewhere near the middle of this country,
maybe today a middle-aged man
is printing, "Nobody Loves Me"
with a felt-tip pen on a sweatshirt
– on its back and front.  He darkens
each letter on the pale gray fabric
once again, pauses to notice the sky
that same color above naked trees.
Then nods three times and puts it on.
Maybe the man will walk past stores,
bank, insurance agent, Sportsmans' Bar,
Eat, Quik-Stop Gas & Mart, wearing
the three words on his chest and back –
and a few people will notice, and others won't.
He will walk the three-block "downtown,"
cross the street and walk them back;
and a child learning to read will pull
at her mother's hand and point at the words.
The woman will lean and murmur,
and the girl will turn and watch the man
while being led in the other direction . . .
And maybe after moving "Nobody Loves
Me" facing east and west four times
on the north side of that Main Street
and the south, this man will stand
outside a franchise hardware store
watching vehicles pass, a traffic light change,
the sky become a deeper gray.
Maybe in her room, the young girl will hug
her stuffed "Mr. Bear" until the urge
to cry recedes slightly – and then
she will crayon an orange heart
on its front and back.  And maybe
her mother will later see that and cry.
And by then the man will have seen
one of the town's two police cars pass
where he stands three times, each
more slowly . . .  and he will have
returned the officer's small nod
the third time.  And maybe he will walk
back to his apartment and burn the sweatshirt
in his shower; and it will cause
the smoke detector to buzz shrilly,
but the man will go detach the battery
– and when he returns to the shower
and turns water on the charred fabric,
its three words will no longer exist:
Maybe "Nobody Loves Me" will no longer
be printed anywhere in the town . . .
And maybe the man will live the rest
of his life there without anyone asking
about the words, or his offering to explain,
or needing to print and display them again.

Dennis Trudell

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