Scammers often work in twos, one to distract,
the other to pick a man’s pocket or pull the purse strap
from a woman’s shoulder. Create a diversion by dropping
a box of blueberries that roll like marbles across the sidewalk
and no one notices the hand pulling a zoom lens, cellphone,
laptop or iPad from a backpack. A partner can provide
a get-away car or a house in which to hide. Or can serve
as a guide, showing the scammer a shortcut
through seamy streets or alleyways.
Caravaggio’s fresh-faced youth in dark red velvet
and white lace collar concentrates on his cards,
not suspecting the rogue behind him signals
what he sees there to the scoundrel who stands,
ready to run if caught, gazing at the gullible aristocrat,
gaging the likelihood he will catch on to the swindle.
The dupe has no idea his competitor is a con
with marked cards tucked into his belt behind his back.
The credulous young man thinks he can salvage
the silver coins he lost in their Backgammon game.
You’ll find that pair of rapscallions even today, reading
the eyes of the oblivious, offering deals too good to be true
on the streets of Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Tikrit.
They devise deceits, sell knock-offs or fake drugs,
cheat at pool or poker, pretend to be destitute,
while other crooks sit at computers or phones, bilking believers
into giving out their bank account numbers to rescue
a bogus grandchild or accept a lottery payout. They target vets
or students needing loans, or tell seniors with dementia
they’ll be jailed if they don’t send money for overdue taxes.
Others stack the deck in the National League, the Olympics
and the Tour de France with performance-enhancing drugs.
No, it’s not just Rome in the 1600s. The ne’er-do-well, knave,
and scoundrel are at work around the world in every era,
hoodwinking the innocent, the hopeful, the desperate.
Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair, Poets and Patrons of Chicago and past President, Illinois State Poetry Society, has published over 650 poems in anthologies, webzines, and print publications. She has won awards for formal and free verse and haiku, including the 2019 Founders’ Award from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Her second poetry book, Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick was published by Kelsay Books in 2019. Her poetry blog at wildamorris.blogspot.com features a monthly contest for poets.
The Ekphrastic Review
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