Between the Trains and the Streets: False Friends
The clown in the shredded newspaper suit lunges at me.
His rubber lips have blown out with incomprehensible pleas
And today he smells like nothing but pleasantries. The rain
Has not compelled him to cover up with black garbage bags.
Though this time I do not reach into my pocket but tighten
My knuckles around my purse strap with surprise and hurry,
I take the time to marvel: his strips are so uniform, rustling
With layer upon layer, a hula skirt swallowing a senior citizen
With pained eyes that just can't go mad, the effort bulging...
And today, he isn't smoothing a garbage bag over his knees
A cup rattling in his other dark fist. He must use scissors
To feather himself into this gray dark bird. That he is alive
Satisfies me. It had been two years, and my tight grip does
Nothing to betray my deep affection. My fingers do not loose
To help him buy booze. I have been surprised and cannot slow
Because I'm on my way to the luciferous sidewalk and its life.
I exclaim later, "That clown! The newspaper scarecrow!...
He's alive! He hasn't starved, met a grisly or freezing death!
I'd been worried sick." "Oh, him...is that all? Indian or Thai?"