Robert Nazarene

Big Bob

When he stood in the doorway, the doorway
                                                            wed the wall…
He could not
He could not

But he carried his wits like a king.

From the age of 9 he could haul blocks of ice
up 4 flights of stairs in a coldwater tenement.

                                            At 17,
                                            his hands swung
                                            like jugs.

But in the dime-a-dance halls
of The Delta he floated
as if a firefly, dipping
beneath strings of amber lights, ducking
his head, pass-after-pass.

He stammered
on the rare occasions when he spoke.
Many thought he was a mute.
He married the first girl who asked.

It was 1929.
But unlike most, he had nothing to lose
when the granite ceilings collapsed and men
leaped to their deaths like lead birds.

The first girl who asked, asked for a divorce.
He was not one to disappoint.

He learned not
to hope against hope.

Because he wore his wits like a king.
Because he knew hope was born stupid.