Weekly poem on Trump Presidency
Keep The Change
Standing outside the Tower on Fifth Avenue
I see a cleaning lady give the bird
with two gloved hands to the crowd
of women protesting in the street.
Two yellow rubber birds! from a lofty cage.
Middle fingers extended emphatically
like she was strafing us down below
with machine-gun fire. This is funny
and it’s sad. Sadder still, watching my father watch TV.
Reminds me of first entering my house I won at auction.
There was a room inside no one told me about
with blood and human head still behind the blinds.
But the shirts, the shirts in the closet.
The guy must have been a gun enthusiast
because all his shirts said things like, “I’ll hang on
to my guns and my religion and you can keep the change.”
Strange, how we act on what isn’t there.
All my father wanted as a child was a toolbox full of tools.
Then one Christmas beneath the tree, a toolbox bright and red.
When he opened it, of course there wasn’t anything inside.
Fill it up! said his step-father with a toupee grin.
And he did. He filled it up. He filled it up and then
he filled a larger one. On top of my mother’s patience,
he filled the garage, then his office, then the entire house
with every kind of tool: plow planes, levels
made of brass and wood, alligator wrenches
and early crescents, a wall of antique saws.
When I go home I always find myself
standing in that room. Things are different now,
the saws all seem to say—when was the last time
you built anything by your own hand? Keep the change
and work with it, I want to yell up to all the towers.
Even while you hang the past on white and well-lit walls.
Eric Roy is a native of Houston, TX and currently lives in Brooklyn. Recent poems of his appear in decomP, Booth, the Maine Review, the minnesota review, Rhino, Salt Hill, Tampa Review, and the American Journal of Poetry. “Keep the Change” originally appeared in Tar River Poetry.