Newspaper Hawker


Herb limps down and up the cinders

on the berm of Exit Ramp 2-A

behind Perkins’ restaurant.

He holds up The Intel.

He is tired; he is sweaty!

His dirty tennis shoes cry out:


He hobbles backwards mostly,

trusting the path he has worn.


He thinks about yesterday

as he lights his non-filter cig.


He remembers that a young male

held a flimsy five-dollar bill

out of the rear-driver’s-side window.

As he approached the vehicle,

the traffic began to crawl slowly away.

Quickly, the bill disappeared,

and the prankster spat a loogie

in his face.


All of its occupants guffawing,

the car pulled away.


Herb mopped the wad of phlegm

from his sunburnt face

and resumed his habit

of walking backwardly on the cinders.


Papers are just fifty cents,

but most people are kind,

giving him a dollar,

expecting no change.

Sometimes he gets a five

and a smile;

once, he got a twenty

and a wink.

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As he runs out of papers,

he counts his tips–$27.50,

and he smiles to himself

and lights another cigarette

as he crosses National Road

to await the bus,

a twenty-minute ride

to his musty apartment.


David J. Thomas is a Professor of English at West Liberty University, who is entering his thirty-third year of teaching on the collegiate-level.  Originally from Burgettstown, PA, Thomas has lived in West Virginia since 1975.  He attended West Liberty State College for a BA in English and History in 1975, Eastern Kentucky University in 1975, Marshall University for an MA in  American Literature in 1977, and West Virginia University for a Ph. D. in Modern American Literature in 1992.  He was also graduated as a Masters Naturalist in 2010 from the WV DNR.  He was elected as the Professor of the Year at WLSC/WLU four different years.  He also published a book of poetry, . . .only the trying. . . in 1991.  He has additionally published over one hundred poems and articles in the past third of a century.  Moreover, he is an award-winning poet, essayist, and cook.

Photo by LeeRoy