The Pocketeer

At the holiday fair this year
I’m the Pocketeer.
I wear the traditional

many-pocketed mantle
and fill each tiny pouch with
trinkets, for which tickets

will be paid by children
eager to approach and
search for secrets: dice

and marbles, tricks and
novelties, hand-tufted
animals, pipe-cleaner

pixies parents made at
parent’s night last week,
one rubber snake, a few

wrapped candies, a buck
in shiny quarters, six fat
squares of coloring wax,

and a pack of multicolored
birthday candles, never lit,
in silk-dark places all apart.

Cloaked like death, I’m life
instead, strolling the halls
of the school, a shooter

in reverse: I take their soft
rolled or folded paper
bullets; I open my cape

and fearfully they slip their
fingers through the wounds
that riddle my chest, my

sleeves, my linings, my vest,
and at their prizes gasp
and scream and dance and

cling and sing my name to their
adults—“The Pocketeer!”—
their eyes alight with glee,

while I, stone-faced for fear
my power should dissolve
in tears for innocents to see,

insensibly I carry on,
I carry out
the awful spree.