The Prodigal Son's Brother


who'd been steadfast as small change all his life
forgave the one who bounced back like a bad check
the moment his father told him he ought to.
After all, that's what being good means.
In fact, it was he who hosted the party,
bought the crepes & champagne,
uncorked every bottle. With each drink
another toast to his brother: ex-swindler, hit-man
& rapist. By the end of the night
the entire village was blithering drunk
in an orgy of hugs & forgiveness,
while he himself,
whose one wish was to be loved as profusely,
slipped in & out of their houses,
stuffing into a satchel their brooches & rings
& bracelets & candelabra.
Then lit out at dawn with a light heart
for a port city he knew only by reputation:
ladies in lipstick hanging out of each window,
& every third door a saloon.


Steve Kowit, The Dumbbell Nebula, Roundhouse Press, 1999.