Suzanne Wise

50 Years in the Career of an Aspiring Thug

1. Burned Christ to a crisp. 2. On the Betty Crocker burner. 3. Tied
a body to the railroad tracks. It wore the clothes of a girl. 4. Later
found naked and weeping in the fields. 5. It was a body of straw.
6. It wore a note that said: I am God. 7. Drove Father’s golf cart into
the pond. My final hole in one, said the note stuffed in the ninth hole.
8. Stole prize roses from Mother’s garden. Wore them on the head, as a
wreath, in secret, admiring the Romanesque profile in the bathroom
mirror. 9. In the diary: I will conquer. 10. Dreamed of making the rank
of Eagle Scout. 11. Stole Brother’s BB gun. 12. Shot the lights out all
over town. 13. Disappeared. 14. Didn’t leave a note. 15. Got a job
in the city working for the glass company. 16. Checking panes for
cracks. 17. Etched curses into every self reflected. 18. Got a job work-
ing for the car company, answering the phone. 19. I’m Henry Ford, on
this earth to eat your soul.
20. Got a job working for the baby food
company, counting cans of mashed beets, broccoli, meats. 21. Kept that
job. 22. Wrote neat columns. 23. Of numbers. 24. Added with
precision. 25. Punched. 26. The. 27. Clock. 28. The. 29. Clock.
30. The. 31. Clock. 32. One more spot in the spotty night, scribbled on
the forehead in the mirror. 33. Sad brow of the girl on the job in the
boss’s bed. 34. I am beads on an abacus. 35. Clicked. 36. From left
to right
. 37. Wore a crown. 38. Of sweat. 39. Bars of the headboard
trapped in small hands. 40. Woke as the only one inside the body of
mulch, the body of palm smears, the rewired body of blue veins and
split hairs, the body of loose and multiplying terms. 41. Breathed
zeros in the damp. 42. Monitored ceiling stain’s spread. 43. Pondered
the unwritten book of the distant. 44. Time card. 45. That little priest
hungry for sins
. 46. Wielded the stolen grease pencil. 47. Blackened
the stolen roll of fish-wrapping paper, a record. 48. Of hiding places.
49. Because street lights got replaced. 50. Because fields grew parking lots.

Suzanne Wise
50 Years in the Career of an Aspiring Thug is reprinted with permission from The Kingdom of the Subjunctive (Alice James Books, 2000).