The ice cream man
was a beloved guru
from Grace to Main
from Sunset to View,
his boxy white vehicle
with the tinkling tune
proving that Pavlov’s theories
work well on the young;
his sliver of a salary sucked,
but his tips were the yearning yelps
of customers clutching coins
plucked from purses or penny jars
in exchange for Drumsticks and Dreamsicles.
No one knew
that he couldn’t whistle and
had asthma and impotence or that his
mom, preferring Pilsener to parenting,
had slugged him every chance she got,
that he crashed on his cousin’s couch,
collecting occasional cash as a mystery shopper
once the kids crept back to school
or scurried in from the cold.
The ice cream man was a malcontent,
and if the community ever casually
caught wind of his crafty combinations of curse words,
it’d never let its babies near him,
but when he sank behind the wheel
onto a slick of arse-sweat on sultry mornings,
he became a hero with a reason to live.
Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor in Urbandale, Iowa, USA. Adrian’s work has appeared in The Bohemyth, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Pangolin Review, Picaroon Poetry, Runcible Spoon, and others.