Tax Day

Tax Man

Thunder Bob used to drive for Consolidated Freight
before the small bones began to press
against the nerves in his lower back
and his right foot went numb.
Now he slouches in blue suspenders,
forearms propped on a steel desk, doing my taxes.

In the den his wife watches the Simpson trial
and he wants to get me done, squinting down
at last year’s forms, muttering, a Chesterfield
burning away between his fingers. You need
more write-offs, he says, peering sideways
through the smoke. Since you can’t afford a house,
why not have another kid, eh?
Rain blowing in off the bay rattles the windows
and the branches of the pin oaks moan. He knows
my wife moved out last year. The kids I’ve got
are waiting, eating cold Chinese by the TV.

You watch, he tells me. Soon they’ll start messing
with Social Security. I can hear the lawyer’s voices
carping down the airwaves and I think sometimes
the rain will never end, a bleak mudcaked creature
prowling the landscape, entering our homes
while we sleep, its ragged breath like quicklime
misting our faces.

Driving home through the storm I think of him
leaning against his porch, telling me
to be careful. Try to kick down more cash
into Retirement, he’d said, bracing himself
on his good foot. Nobody knows for sure
what the hell’s going to happen.

Joseph Millar
from Overtime

More poems by Joseph Millar posted @ Against Oblivion:

"Sentimental" from Willow Springs
"At Bay Meadows with Robert Herrick" from Overtime
"Love Pirates" from Overtime
"Dark Harvest" from Overtime
"Feeding Tristam's Snake" from Fortune
"Fall Night" and "Caroling" from Fortune
"Lyrical" from Fortune