Roger W. Hecht: #NotTrump Series

Roger W. Hecht: #NotTrump Series

Sunlight Beckons Beyond the Dumpster


My twelve-year-old daughter, reading a novel,

comes across a new word. She asks, “what is dauntless?”

I say, "To lack daunt.  To be without it." As if that helps.

She asks, “So, do we have any?” I have to say I don’t know.

No one ever asked. & I wouldn’t know where to look. 

The bookshelf? The back of the fridge? Nothing.

So next time I'm downtown and some worn out guy

stretches out a hand I’ll have to shrug, point to my hips

& make the empty-pocket gesture & say with my face,

maybe next time, bro; because you see, I’m dauntless.

& I’d walk away embarrassed because maybe that’s a lie

& I have some beside the quarters in the my car's cup holder

that I didn’t give to the guy with the sign on the corner

near Dunkin Donuts when I stopped at the light.

Or not. Because probably really I’m dauntless.  Which is not

to say I’m undaunted, since that presumes I once had it,

or having lost it plan to get some more.  Getting some,

what would I do with it?  What would anyone do?

Invest it, I guess. But not in a bank; not at these rates. 

I’d have to find a firm. Invest aggressively. Take risks.

Watch my daunt grow. Buy up companies; sell off the parts.

Get it at the source: mines, mineral rights, key lanes of transport.

Workers toiling night & day: mountain tops removed; slick water

horizontal drill rigs churning; whole forests leveled & replanted

to monocrop daunt.  Because there’s only so much of it

& so much need, & if there isn’t need I’ll make it with ads

on the Sunday morning talk shows & Buzzfeed pop-ups.

So long as I can keep the unions out.  Easy enough

if I spread some around the right people.  But really,

I’m not that ambitious & don't think myself greedy.

I just want enough for me. How I get it doesn’t matter.

Let’s just say I met a guy who knows a guy who has a connection

& told me when to meet him in the alley behind the Shoremart.

Yes, it costs more than I want, but I don’t get to set the price.

I meet the man, who offers me a taste, because that’s good business. 

I can feel my cheeks flush & that pleasant buzzing on my gums.

But around the block there’s another two guys waiting,

which I should have expected.  I don’t resist, but I don’t show fear. 

My impulse is to stare at the gun, but I look the guy

right in the eye. He’s scared too & refuses my gaze.  His partner

rifles my pockets, shoves me hard against the dumpster.

I hold my own: chest out, heart racing, on the verge of tears.

It’s snowing maybe, or raining, or maybe the sun is out

& a warm breeze is telling me to pull myself out of the shadows

& start the day on a firmer foot. But I remain on the greasy bricks

stuck in darkness where I am: fearful & needy

& full of remorse, undaunted & still dauntless.

Author with his father

Author with his father

Roger W. Hecht is the author of a collection of poems, Talking Pictures (Cervena Barva Press). His poems have appeared in Prick of the Spindle, Zoomoozophone, Diagram, Elimae, and Denver Quarterly. He lives near Ithaca, NY.