Honorable Mention, Poetry
Today, when I parked my car at the store,
and got out
I saw it under my tire.
A crisp twenty-dollar bill
waiting to be spent on something important.
I tugged it, freed it
and placed it in my pocket.
I had no need for the bill, and so
I tucked it into the pocket of a
black winter coat
That was hanging on a rack alone, and would be
bought, but not worn
For several months more.
And there the bill will wait
to be found, to be used
To buy something important, perhaps.
This morning I put on my new winter coat
A bulky black thing, that I found
on the sales rack, the rack for clothing
That no one else wants to buy.
As I walked down the street, I shoved my hands
into my pockets, attempting to protect them
from the chill of an unforgiving wind
And found a twenty.
Still pristine, unused
With its picture of some president,
whose name I should probably know,
Looking up at me, as if waiting to be spent
on something important.
When I stepped into a coffee shop to get warm
And saw the waitress, the beautiful waitress
with the sad eyes
I wanted to be important to her, and so
I walked up to the counter, and
dropped the nameless president into the tip jar
The empty tip jar with the faded sharpie ink on its side.
As I walked through the door, back into the winter,
The waitress called out to me,
the beautiful waitress with the sad eyes,
and told me that the heat was free,
That no tip was required.
I turned around and told her
that she was someone important
Someone who should have twenty dollars
in her tip jar.
And as I blew her a kiss
I heard the horn of a car
A car more unforgiving than the winter.
At the beginning of my shift
A man in a black coat came in,
and stood for a while
Warming up, I suppose
Like the dozens of others who come in
and don’t buy anything
And let the wretched wind inside
Every time they open the door.
But I watched him, and he was happy, the kind of happy that
doesn’t care how cold it is outside.
Before he left, the man in the black coat
dropped a bill
Into the always-empty tip jar.
As he walked out, I called to him, I told him
he didn’t need to leave a tip,
Not because I didn’t want it
but because I wanted to speak to him.
He laughed, he said I was important,
and he blew me a kiss
Right as a car slid over the ice
and into him.
I screamed, I screamed so loud that
no sound was made
And I ran back inside, and flipped the
open sign around.
I got the money from the tip jar before I left,
and realized that his was the only bill in it.
I drove to a flower shop
the one that stood on the corner
And had so many flowers,
but no customers to buy them.
I bought seven daisies,
seven being my lucky number
For nine dollars and some change.
I gave the florist the twenty-dollar bill
and left before he could give me the difference
Because I wanted nothing to do
with the rest of that tip
The tip that I didn’t work for, that I
Then I drove to the hospital,
the only one in our small city
And asked to see the man in the black coat.
But when I stepped into his room
He was no longer wearing his black coat
and he was no longer awake,
So I set the flowers down, and left
to finish my shift.
I had only one customer today.
She was young, and sad
and did not speak.
She bought daisies and paid me
more than she should have,
Leaving before I could say anything.
I put the coins in the register,
and the extra ten dollars in my pocket
And forgot about it until I was walking home.
I took my gloves out of my pocket,
and as I did, the ten-dollar bill fell out
And was carried by the wind
into a parking lot.
I did not chase it
the night was too dark, too cold
And I hoped that maybe someone would
And use it for something