I walked adrift one moonlit
night forlorn of slumber
and lost in thoughts
memory fails recount to me.
Destiny’s hand led me
where strewn they lay in
boxed beds aside bottles
empty of their corks under
tattered blankets strewn
midst tin cans and smoldered butts.
Concrete pillars sheltered them
of ragged wear, shoulders stooped,
gray-bearded, glassy eyed, the lot of them
gave me cause to speed my gait.
Save but for an impulse hearkened,
commanded me to pause, ‘twas
then an echo out a shadowed wall:
Share a sip, a word,
a moment with a wayward soul?"
"I’ve not a drop to share," I said,
but of my youth a voice consoled,
"Be troubled not, for I keep
back a sip or two from all
these selfish mates accompany me."
No quicker spoken he withdrew from
‘neath his soiled Downs a bottle
label showed MD, a recent vintage
and Dixie cups a pair he quickly filled.
We sipped, he poured while this
his yarn he spun bemusedly:
"I ride the tracks for years nigh thirty,
my head takes rest in steel-barred cells,
and in the alleys and on the docks,
and then the time I lay on Mother’s tomb.”
“But I have felt in one no less,
no more comfort than the other,
for slim they are the wants of one as me."
Then before his story takes its feet
down the thoroughfare the sirens freaked
to hurry him forestall his yarn, explained
"Forgive me brother, now comes trouble here
tells best I hurry take my leave.”
His Downs he grabbed and quick he fled
then struck I think of second thought,
he paused, a moment held his flight
looked my way and this he told:
"Perhaps another night
somewhere along the trembling tracks,
or maybe ‘neath the bridge where barges go,
perhaps at bro Salvation’s soup canteen,
I’ll slow my flight and fill the blanks and
give account of me where time has yet not told.”
“For there is mystery in your way
a puzzle piece has slipped away
and I shall find delight one night
In knowing what it is this thing
I feel so binds us two.”
Then from the dark a lightning bolt
brought out its thunder,
Him gone into the black.
Left alone now with this quandary
I scratched my head to weigh
it through for something stirred me too.
Amidst a muffled pother comes a light
sparked me wonder could it be
him thus strewn of wanderlust was . . .
O no for certain ‘tis too large a leap,
A thought without its reason,
more a fantasy gone extreme.
Yet pokes and prods, leads me think
to romp, to run with him beneath each moon,
for all the wealth his learned ways
could teach me fly were my legs to fail
and free we’d stay with few travails.
So tis this place I stop,
reconnoiter and make my plea,
raise the paper cup he left with me,
salute those memories yet not blurred
permit me toast and think these words:
Perhaps ‘twas but a simple dream
and not so as my heart would tell,
for restless thoughts succumb and
weary gives me to the dark of fright.
But ‘tis his spirit will not ease me wonder
him the ghost of me there all these years,
Free . . .
yet still in flight?
~ ~ ~