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Free Verse: Andy Cox

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 20, 2010 - This month's poem is by Andy Cox. Andy's poems are driven by a strong voice that is wise and wise-cracking and full of heart.

The bent logic toward the end of this poem embraces broken hearts and hard luck, as the speaker hangs on to his childhood talisman rescued from a neighbor's garbage.


I dimly recollect going through the neighbor's garbage
at 13, remember that kid snooping into matters
he believed would make him feel better, see him
coming up with a discarded love letter
that has become his life's bill of rights.
Those faded letters mean everything.
They say help. They say I love you, why don't you
love me? They hiss under their sour breath,
go away, please. So I reckon I tucked this message away
for memory's sake, held on to it because of nothing, because
I had no good reason but to smile with crooked teeth
at what the next word would be, because I can promise
I did not know. But in my time, many yeses have walked
right up and shaken my hand as if they'd known me
all my life, as if I owed them at least this much:
a warm and friendly greeting on the street.
I better hold on to this note a while longer,
I better use it against danger. I better never
let it go, or one day some money machine
in some backwater place will not give up
my money, displaying across the screen:
You only get so many chances.

Andrew Cox is the author of the poetry collection "The Equation That Explains Everything" (BlazeVOX, 2010) and two chapbooks, "Company X" (www.wordvirtual.org) and "Fortune Cookies" published by 2River View (www.2River.org). He has published widely in magazines through the years including River Styx, Witness, Laurel Review, Sentence, Natural Bridge among others. He lives in University City, the Brooklyn of St. Louis.

To learn more about River Styx, click here. Richard Newman, River Styx editor for 15 years, is the author of two full-length poetry collections. He teaches poetry and literature at St. Louis Community College and co-directs the River Styx at Duff's reading series.

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