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two poem-drafts I wrote on the bus tonight…

March 21, 2007

“Homeless”

Even the homeless seem complacent in my adopted city.
Finished crouching outside the rushing warmth of subway mouths,
they lie, mummified, in doorways and alleys.
I imagine briefly, with the rush of air down the step from the bus,
that I too had to become well versed in the virtues
of an eave turned this way, or a grate, or the torturous
promise of a hovel in proximity to The Cardinal,
Ye Old Shakespeare, The Victoria, or any other pub,
with their darkly painted wooden frames and gilt letters,
belching smells of bangers and mash or the caramel
gaze of shining Strongbow pints in the window glass.
It is a fantasy as brief as my shiver, turning a corner.
And I am wondering how I intellectualize their suffering
and do not make myself cry for the shame of it.

“Royal Gala Apples”

Here they’re called “Royal.” Your favorite apples
unmistakable in their red and yellow brush-strokes
still tinged in unripe almost-green. And “Gala” just as sure
as one of the thousand parties you’ve thrown.
Did they rest in a china bowl in your biggest house
in town? When Moma was a girl and you kept
it spotless. A stage always set for the characters—
mafia dons or homeless men, it didn’t matter.
And in my imagination the people he brought around
to look at the immaculate house grow bolder,
crazier with each recollection of the recollections.
Were he himself a character in a book, I’d say
he could be counted on for little but his warmth
towards strangers, the crippling largeness of his heart.
I hope the apples were there as witnesses.
When I bite them standing on Portobello Road
in cold London late-March rain, I feel
the warmth of sea breeze, and I can hear the scratches
of a thousand palmetto fronds on the windows.
I smell your heady perfume as clearly then as at other times
in the morning café-rush or the after-work train.
They take me home so quickly that it carries my breath away.

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