The scrawny, slump-shouldered kid in the sweatshirt
grabbed as many Double AA batteries as he could hug
into the waiting ***** of his faded, ratty hoodie
from the display rack at the pharmacy down the block.
He made a run for it, slipping out the sliding doors,
into the starless night splashed across that inky empyrean.
It wasn’t necessary at all, he got out of there scot-free.
No one noticed any pilfering until they did the nightly inventory.
But his world was small, and he went back the next day for a juice.
The manager who was being interviewed perfunctorily by a cop
recognized him from his review of the security footage.
The kid got caught unawares, was arrested on the spot.
When he bonded out, he had to repay his brother the surety
so he headed to the other corporate pharmacy across the street
and grabbed armfuls of cartons of cigarettes he knew he could sell
on the corner, for he had no other means of repayment.
He had no job, no car, no degree, no nothing, nada, nada, nada.
His blinkered world was circumscribed, limited, hemmed in,
circled by how far he could walk, trudge in a blizzard.
He made it out the whooshing door, again faced flashing lights.
In that moment, as the booked him back in county lockup
behind the thick slab of plexiglass, the guard smirked,
“haven’t I seen you here before, just like a day ago?”
He then knew it was all hopeless, oh so hopeless, an endless cycle.