Did you have anything of value stolen? || Jean-Luc Fontaine

The police officer asks me 
       as he fills out a form on his clipboard—
   routine paperwork for the wallet 

snagged from my hands by a blur 
      of a man at East 180th. 
   Just 60 dollars and my debit card,

I shout over the din of the police station.
      But in the change pocket, I kept 
   a spare key for my first loam-

colored station wagon—the one peppered 
      with rust, that sputtered and jumped 
   like an old grizzly bear 

as I drove it down to the local punk venue. 
      Or the tiny mustache comb 
   that I used to groom my facial hair 

before the first date with my wife—
      the two tufts on my upper lip 
   trembling like two spooked chihuahuas 

as I rehearsed all the jokes 
      I would fumble that night.   
   And what about the piece of string 

I tucked behind my driver’s license—
      that brown, frayed, wispy thing 
   I clipped from the biggest ball of twine 

in the world for my grandfather, 
      not knowing he had died 
   of a sudden brain aneurysm 

the night before. I’m sorry, sir, 
      could you repeat yourself.
   I couldn’t hear you over all the noise.

The police officer says as he rests 
      a pencil against his uniform scruff. 
   Sure, officer. 60 dollars, 

my debit card, a key for a battle tank, 
      a priceless mustache 
   comb, a thread leading back to the past.


Jean-Luc Fontaine resides in New York where he teaches the arts at an elementary school in the Bronx. He enjoys cheap coffee and falling asleep on subway cars.

Originally published in the FALL 2018 edition of The Helix.



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