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Bulletproof Vest.

Bulletproff Vest

 Because one time a gun
 was pointed at his chest
 when the man with shaking hands
 dropped it and it went off,
 making a hole through the wood shelves.
 Because the next time
 he didn't see anything,
 but when he'd opened the register
 felt something shoved
 into his back and heard,
 "All the fucking money
 in the bag ... now motherfucker ...
 or I'll fucking kill you."
 I was just starting high school
 when he started wearing the vest.
 I'd help my father strap it on
 over his tee shirt, and under
 one of his flannel shirts
 that he would slowly button up
 before heading off to work
 which wasn't any kind of job
 worth losing your life for-a
 bar in a bad neighborhood
 where whiskey and beer
 were the only drinks,
 where cashing paychecks
 was how most of the money was made.
 But it was the job he did year
 after year, and it paid for the roof
 that covered me, the sandwich
 in the sack that I carried to school,
 and the clothes that I wore:
 the tee shirt underneath,
 and the shirt that buttoned all the way up
 from my smooth belly, to my skinny neck.


Matthew Murrey has published widely in journals and has work forthcoming in Rhino and Poetry East. He received an NEA Fellowship in Poetry in 1995. "Shoot the Sky, " his first book-length manuscript, is seeking a publisher. Lately he's been taking on NPR News in his blog, "NPR Check. " He lives in Urbana, Illinois, with his partner and their tWO sons.
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Article Details
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Author:Murrey, Matthew
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Poem
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Words:259
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