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Decent/Descent, Poetry By Nick Sweet

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Poet and Author Nick Sweet has been writing poetry and short stories for most of the last 40 years.

I’m stuck at a bad intersection
Longest red light in town
I absently turn the radio up
And roll the window down

On the curb, six feet away
I try to process who I saw
Can’t help thinking “Wizard of Oz”
Scarecrow minus the straw

I know who he is without looking
Flash back to our Little League days
When he was a slick-fielding shortstop
While I played a smooth second base

He’d chosen high-stakes poker
As his highway to high-roller dreams
Sadly he lost the ranch and his soul
With debts he could never redeem

A diamond flush beat his two pair
Triggered his steady decline
His bleak abstract: drugs and despair
WILL WORK FOR FOOD says his sign

Relieved he had not recognized me
I stare straight ahead and relax
But quickly recall how he intervened
In a frightening schoolyard attack

He halted a battle I would have lost
Allowed me to save face and skin
James Taylor plays on the radio
Reminding me You’ve got a friend

I hastily reach for my wallet
Selecting my highest bill
Extending my hand, averting my eyes
He takes it but stands very still

Finally he says, “Thank you, Larry”
I reply, “You’re welcome, Fred”
As I wave, raise my window
Hit the gas and run the red

***

About Nick Sweet

I have been a freelance stage director for over 40 years, with most of my productions being in Oklahoma. I also have written a musical, Nanyehi, The Story of Nancy Ward, with singer/songwriter Becky Hobbs, which is being produced this year on May 4th & 5th at the Hard Rock Casino Theatre (The Joint) in Tulsa, Okla. In 2001 I directed the outdoor drama, Trail of Tears in Talequah, OK, written by my friend, Joe Sears, native Oklahoman and Tony nominated actor/writer for the Greater Tuna series.  I teach a yearly specialty theatre/literature enrichment program for 4th graders in the Bartlesville School system called Spotlight.

Published inPeggy Heitmann

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