We humored him as he made his rounds,
selling candy from a cardboard box
and his shirt-cardboard paintings
of grinning, paisley-shaped animals.
We would mock him, fool or simpleton,
and buy his pictures for a quarter.
Years later I watch with my son
the amazing maneuvers on the campus lawn
of a jugglers’ convention. Sam is there,
as before, but feeble and less coherent.
His paintings are larger, more accomplished,
the creatures peaceful and multi-legged.
Prices are high, he tells me;
“I pay for the cardboard now
and I use more paint. They wrote me up
in the magazine last year.”
He puts his hand on my son’s head
and I pay five dollars for a picture.
That’s cheap for anyone’s masterpiece,
a smiling eight-legged monster
that bears another monster inside,
and cheap for my son, at seven, to be blessed
among jugglers in the springtime
by one of God’s own fools.