hinky man

Natasha Burge

he was the hinky man
bowlegged and metal-toothed
toenails of a vagabond saint
riptide feral and freaked

we taunted him
we thrilled at him

neighborhood wild man
scuttling out of his house
with the licorice door
and the droop-eye windows
walking higgledy-piggledy
like his legs came out the same hole
and had to bicker each time they
took a step

closer and closer he came toward us
our little table littered with lemons
and cups and napkins and change

he beached himself on our shore
took in our wares
and loosed that grin upon us


a nod
puppeteer snipped his string

two, please


we stared at that second finger lifted to the sky
clouds spun off the yellow nail bed
the whole earth wobbled on its axis

two cups for the hinky man?
what could he want with two cups?
he was only ever alone
solitude built into the skin of him
loneliness his only virtue

we looked down the street to his house
was that a twitch of curtain in the bug-eyed window?
was there a mrs. higgledy-piggledy?
was there someone to love the hinky man
with his crocodile smile
and driftwood legs?

we gave him two cups

keep the change he said
and turned like a listing ship
and crab walked his way home

NATASHA BURGE divides her time between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain where she and her husband are owned by an unruly herd of rescue animals. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Crack the Spine, Bitterzoet, Luna Station Quarterly, Ink in Thirds, and Tasa’ol. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in creative writing and wrestling her first novel into shape.