By mark belair

going to “market” / the unguarded / refrigerated warehouse to which we delivered our hosed-down crates of vegetables / was the highlight of our farm boys’ week

we’d load the rusty pickup / climb in on top / then watch our hot / stripped / briefly abandoned fields recede into prettiness

upon arriving / the truck would back up until it clunked the delivery bay / knocking us enjoyably about / then we’d roll up the metal door to market’s inner darkness

market smelled of chilled fruit and vegetables more exotic than our own scallions / squash / and tomatoes / lush produce we plundered from cool / stacked crates as

i / wanting to please my mother / worked from a list that she / in her innocence / routinely gave me / as i’d told her it was an old farmers’ tradition for all to help themselves

not that anything was missed / the bulging crates all headed to restaurants and grocery stores / while my buddies and i each filled a mere brown-bag’s worth

but my petty thievery nevertheless nagged at me when i’d bite an apple / peel a mango / crack a coconut or / worse / watch my

whole unsuspecting family relish my misbegotten goods / their pleasure sending squirts of catholic sourness through my unfolding soul

then one day i overheard my mother / on the phone / telling a friend about market / including how i thought the pilfering i did was permitted / and isn’t that sweet



Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit

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