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“Not for Sale,” shortlisted for the Times Literary Supplement’s 2019 Mick Imlah Poetry Prize

Mick Imlah Poetry Prize 2019 shortlist

Not for Sale

The minimum-wage worker drags the cart
full of children, all of them
so cute, put together
so perfectly. Along the cracks of the sidewalk,
the wheels twist, popping, the ride
far from smooth. Occasionally,
couples stop him, ask how much
for the little girl with pigtails, for the boy
with the black eye. The worker
doesn’t speak much English,
tells the passersby the kids aren’t for sale
until tomorrow, & only
at the store, not illegally
like this, smack in the middle of the street.