Man with the doves

This poem has taken a while to develop. Like the other sidewalk poems, the first line was prompted by a real moment on the street. A contrast that registered.

In building the poem, I realized that I wanted to transmit the images with impartiality, the citywalker as photojournalist.

The man with the doves

The man with the doves
is asking for coins.

The man in the poster
– naked chest, naked loins –
announces a lotion
¡cash-back, guarranteed!
to smoothe your abdomen
at night while you sleep.

The doves peck at nothing,
they dance and they coo
around the old man
who does not look at you.

His hat sits before him,
a basket of hope –
originally white,
now the far side of taupe.

I live with both men,
our relationship bound
by the shared stretch of  sidewalk,
profane and profound.

Raise a Glass

This Sidewalk Poem started off with the glimpse of a large bowl of (artificial) apples adorning a table in a designer furniture store. They looked very comfortable and self-satisfied. I imagined this dialogue between a down-in-the-dumps housewife (stereotype alert!) and a bowl of apples in her kitchen.

Raise a Glass

The bowl of fat red apples
sitting happy on the sink
says, “Why not call your girlfriends?
Go out for a drink?”

The truth is, I can’t do that.
They’re all too far away.
Jane moved across the country.
Sue went another way
and though I sometimes visit her,
her house is cold and grey.
I lost Christine to an argument,
and still regret that day.

And so, my happy apples,
I guess I’ll drink this way!

What is it in a ruined face?

Technically this is not a Sidewalk Poem because it began before I ever left the house. It was that awful moment of the first encounter with a mirror in the morning – and the words “ruined face” came to me. The rest came together as I walked to work.

What is it in a ruined face?

What is it in a ruined face
that makes us want to know
the history that has taken place
to line and shape it so?

‘Tis no young man steals my heart,
although that be the norm.
I like the ripened, wrinkled sort
whose hands are wise and worn,

The road of life is paved somewhat
unevenly you see,
and as I walk the latter half
I’d like to have with me
a traveler who has been abroad,
faced hardship, and is still game
for taking roads less traveled by
while others take the main.

So turn your head towards me sir,
and look me in the eyes.
For I am lonely, and I hunger for
your hands so worn and wise.