2. Sandman

I met him in the midland

Sometime before the dustmen came

Slumped in a plastic chair

On the corner of a crosswalk

I tried to pass him by

But he called out my name


He cried, “Dirtskin!

Why are you wondering this far

from your bed?”

Before I could reply

He let forth a burst of laughter

“I kid, of course!

You prayed.

I answered.”


I studied this midnight creature

He wasn’t what I’d imagined

A man in a tan sweater

One eye blackened

Scruffy beard, white nikes

That were clean as a whistle

He held ice in a hankey

And was smoking a cigarette that fizzled


“You like it? It’s down”
He said, pulling at his top

“Come, have a seat

I might teach you how to shop

Wearing all black like you’re

some slick sleuth

Well, the only thing I spy

Is an uncouth youth.”


It must’ve been my blank look

That made him chortle

The sound raged through my head

A mad sea upon a mortal

He shook till he coughed on a nicotine drag

“Oh, Dirtskin, lighten up” he rasped

I turned to leave but he grabbed my shoulder

His coarse fingers dug through my sleeves

“The routine’s not over.”


I caught my breath and sat down

“I’ve got a card trick just for you!”

He sounded so proud


He threw away the ice and handed me a pair

A Jack of Clubs and a Four of Hearts

“Make a choice, if you dare.”

His black eye twinkled

“Then tear the other one apart

Like you’re so good at doing.”
Was he a god or an old friend?
I had no way of knowing


I made my choice and did as I was told

The bits turned to dust

A gust of wind left me cold

“Now,” he grinned, “Tear up your card too.”

When all that was left was dust

I wiped my hands through


“How’d you get that black eye?”

“Oh, a scuffle with destiny

She said I refused to see

What was right there in front of me.”


Without further explanation

He pushed up his sleeves

To show me his hands

That looked shaped from debris

The lines ran like ditches

The knuckles were craggy

His palms were eroding

And his nails were jaggy


One snap. One flick.

The two cards appeared

He rolled them up

His smile was a smear

“Give me your light”

One flick. One breath

Into the night

Grew the stench of death


Shoulders relaxed, he rose up to go

I frowned and blocked his path



which one was mine?”

He patted my face

“Who the fuck cares?”

With that, he walked away


I watched him disappear

I shrugged in disbelief

Before realizing he took my light

The goddamn thief

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