Enter a Messenger with two heads and a hand.

There’s enough work in these plays
to make an okay living,
especially if you can do a few money moves
before the news you’re carrying goes public.

The trick is to keep your mouth shut
no matter what you’re delivering
or who the recipient and to not react
no matter what they give you:
coins, curses, blows.

Mostly it’s letters and announcements,
but there is the occasional head,
which can be messy
because no one ever bothers
to box them up properly.
These you often can upsell
to deliver on a platter
instead of in a bag.
(Frankly, surcharges are where
the profit margin is.)

Display can be an important part
of the job. You’re like a waiter,
showcasing a meal,
but it’s not about you.
That’s the key. You go on,
deliver the news or whatever,
and get off. Just do that,
and you’ll be fine. You’ll make enough
to feed the family, save a little for retirement,
and you’ll be alive at the end.


Enter Richard and Buckingham in rotten armor, marvelous ill-favored.

You went forward confident, feeling good
about your prospects, but afterwards,
seeing photographs and video clips,
you realized how marvelous ill favored
you were, especially compared to the others,
the ones in the brilliant expensive wardrobes,
the ones with the extensive walk-in closets.
You were defeated as soon as you got dressed,
and those watching knew it, everyone but you.


Joe Mills is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, He has published five collections of poetry, most recently This Miraculous Turning.