He’s out there on the sidewalk.
determined to save all souls.
I drop a quarter in his cup
but I refuse his pamphlet.
I never took Jesus for a beggar.
Or someone who grabs my arm,
regales me to repent.
I’m in a hurry, I tell him.
He replies that there’s no hurry
Yes, and my boss
only thinks he’s God.
A block further
and some guy’s handing out pamphlets
to a strip club.
It’s easier to take one
than be badgered.
It finds its way
into the nearest trash bin.
And let’s not forget
the restaurant owner
who’s on the sidewalk
poking a menu in my face.
Or the guy selling knockoff handbags.
Or watches. Or art books.
Or his sister for all I know.
This city figures it needs to
be in my face.
Then I pass a woman I’d like to know better.
She’s the first one all day
who shrinks from the sight of me.
I got little money
and everybody wants it.
I got a lot of love
but there’s no walking those streets.
The Female Poet in the Book Store
She read what seemed to be
an enormous number of her poems,
but there were none that showed
any insightful observation of society.
If her work was any guide,
she was indifferent to the outside world.
There were enough words in her own condition
to fuel a lifetime of poetry.
She shared with us her addictions,
her broken love affairs,
her deadly relationship with her family,
even the travails of her monthly period.
Defeated most times, angry often,
and with body parts to match,
she was like a patient
in an operating theater
who does the cutting open herself.
Blood and bile,
spit and choler,
we got everything bar her stomach contents.
Of course, I applauded
when she was done.
It helps set a guy apart
from whoever he’s applauding.
Then I bought one her books.
her intestines were not included.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review. Email: jgrey10233[at]aol.com