“Dead End” by William Trowbridge

William Trowbridge


I’ve had it with movies where escapes go wrong,
like when the assistant V.P. at the bank,
who hates his job and has bought a ticket
to Rio—where there’s no extradition treaty
with the U.S.—is sneaking a million
smackers out of the vault one night when he

gets interrupted by the nosy cleaning lady
and has to cool it till she mops her way
upstairs, and then, after he finishes packing
the money into a big suitcase, he tries
to lug it inconspicuously to a cab that
hits every damn red light on the way

to the airport, where his flight’s been
cancelled because of weather, meaning
he may not get out of the country
before they discover his brazen theft,
which, with the cleaning lady’s help,
they may have already done, making

his life seem more and more like that dream
where you’re running from the monster
and aren’t really moving, but now
another flight’s arrived just in time, though
customs wants to talk to him about
the 150-pound suitcase, which he explains

contains cash his bank has to pay a Rio firm
before Monday to get a fat contract
and that the customs guy, who hates
his job, too, decides, after some questioning
and I.D. checking, not to investigate
further, so that finally the coast looks clear,

except the plane has a stopover in Houston,
where the poor slob has second thoughts
and flies back home to his caged-in life,
where he sneaks the money back into the vault
before Monday’s opening. Jesus, think of it:
that lousy double-crossing bastard. Rio!

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013


William Trowbridge: “I was born in Chicago and grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in west Omaha. When I was a kid, I used to spend hours in my room building model airplanes. I later discovered that the then incomparable pleasure I experienced during that activity had at least something to do with Testor’s Extra Fast Drying Model Airplane Glue. It was probably also what caused me to fall for Doris Day one afternoon as she sang ‘Secret Love’ on my Philco. Later yet, I found that writing poems gave me a pleasure similar to the one I got building models, but with the added feeling of strong attunement to what Richard Wilbur calls this ‘bric-a-brac world’ and without the secret love and glue fumes.” (web)

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