Vagrancy is a Characteristic of the Species

Marc Pietrzykowski

Front Porch
Photo Credit: zharth

Spring thaw arrives, the real one, no more feints,
and Ed is on his porch across the street
smoking and coughing and scowling at trees.
It’s a scowl he’s been growing all his life,
I’ve seen photos of it as a seedling,
beneath a crew cut, atop worn short pants.
He scowls at fat robins, at cars, at me;
I smile back, knowing he is kind, and so,
frightened. The next day is rain, the next hail,
then a morning of sun putting its hand
beneath our chins, lifting our heads to see.
Ed is not scowling; I notice his porch
sags at one corner, that shingles are torn.
The school bus pauses, children disembark
and scatter, but still no Ed, no smoke cloud.
I wish I could say I did not forget,
that I went and attended my neighbor,
and sped him to the emergency room,
or found his body face down on the floor,
but it was only months later I heard
of the weeks he spent plugged into the wall,
that he died in the middle of the night,
so the last thing he heard was some machine
bleeping away, announcing another
change in the ledger. His sister told me
the story, leaning on the porch railing,
the first blind idiot day of summer
bearing down. She had a rag on her head
and a mop in her hand, and her smile said
she would die smiling, if only because
she knew there was nothing to smile about.

pencilMarc Pietrzykowski lives and works and writes in Niagara County, NY, USA. He has published various and sundry poems, stories, and essays, as well as 5 books of poetry and 1 novel. His latest novel, The Emissary, was published in March 2014, as was his 6th book of poetry, Straddling the Sibyl. You can visit Marc virtually at Email: pskisporch[at]

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