Petty Theft


Richard Stevenson

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 114 in 2007.

You try to steal a $100 planer.
The 26-year-old female detective,
told to keep an eye open
for a man answering your description,
successfully wrestles you to the ground
when attempts to frog march you
back into the store from the parking lot fail.

How embarrassing would that be
to any petty criminal? Not to you.
You win a few; you lose a few
is the way you look at it. You tried
to overpower your adversary but failed,
so now you have to do a leg in the digger.
Oh well. It’s not like it isn’t home.

When the Surrey cops come, you’re glib,
all smiles and braggadocio.
Tell ‘em you’re ready to take your lumps.
You’re a recidivist, what can you say?
Pay my room and board for a while,
I’m used to the scoff? It’s all a joke to you.
You’ve gotten away with more than they know.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? You get
to be free as a bird on the wing
when you’re out. Chortle like a budgerigar
when you’re in. The only sin is getting
caught, and you’ve beat that beef
more often than not. Simple arithmetic:
you take a lickin’, just keep on tickin’.