Amos Fuller Doesn’t Speak

Amos Fuller doesn’t speak.
He sometimes sits with us when there is room,
His stark dinner tray occupying his private
quarter of the table.

His khakis are always neat and clean,
Wrinkle free, yet strangers to an iron;
His heavy black boots shiny and worn.
He never wears sweats, or sneakers, or
T shirt,
Just the same long sleeved uniform, winter
or summer.

If the salt and pepper are out of reach he
does without.
Sometimes one of us will place them in front
of him.
Then mashed potatoes become snow covered
The single, thin slice of meat an ash laden

Bent in posture yet proud in manner,
Amos Fuller doesn’t speak.
He wears his thinning Afro like a skull cap;
His withered brow reads like the rings of
a southern pine.

He bows his head in prayer, and raises it
in drink,
His vacant eyes prisoners to a different
time, a different place.
Fork clenched tightly in a rough arthritic
The lacking meal is meticulously

           Dry green salad;
           Mean portion of rice or potatoes;
           Two glasses of water.
           Always the same.
           Never dessert.

Once there were cucumbers on his tray.
Halfway through the meal Amos Fuller
burped, expressionless.
He wiped his puffy brown lips
and continued to eat.

Someone said he murdered his wife and
her lover;
Their splattered mingled blood stained the
Curtains and carpet of the tired motel room.
That was 40 years ago,
The last time anyone heard Amos Fuller

Dinner was silent and tense tonight,
Eyes shifting about like butterflies.
I stood to leave, dropping a wrapped candy
mint on his spent tray.
He raised his blank face to mine,
and rapped his scarred knuckles on the
Amos Fuller doesn’t speak.