Scenes from a City

On the train
There is a knapsack
By itself
On the seat at the end of the aisle.

I am alone with it.
What was I doing?
Where was my awareness?
Out the train window
As we went through
The forest preserve.
And now I am alone
With the cause
Of my death?

The conductor marches past me
Eyes the bag,
Pokes it--
And a voice comes
From down the aisle:
"Oh, sorry, that's mine.
I just came down
To talk to my friend."

The conductor is incredulous.

"This is yours?"


"Yeah. I told the other conductor
I was coming back up in a second."

"Come up now," this conductor says.
"Not a second later."

As the man brushes past me
To get his bag, he mutters:
"Fuckin' guy."


Through the window
Of a bistro
I watch an urban pantomime:
Two couples
At a sidewalk table
In the anticipation
Of gustatory delight.

Then there is a man, a thin Black man, holding out his hand, shouting, almost testifying, one hand out, the other beseeching the heedless heavens. Without looking at him, one of the men reaches into his pocket, pulls out a dollar, presses it into the thin man's palm.

The thin man looks,
Where is the kindness
In this ruined world?
Where is the promise of plenty?

Clearly inconvenienced, the man reaches into his pocket, pushing the humid fabric aside with his moist hand, raising his hips, still not looking the thin man in the face. The woman across from him also produces a dollar. The thin man has collected three dollars, although no acknowledgement of his existence, much less his predicament.

The thin man
Walks away from the sidewalk
Shouting thanks
Praising his patrons
They smile
But still do not look
When he is sure of this
He looks at the three dollars
Clenches them in his fist
And pumps that fist
Into the summer sky.

--Mr. Gobley

1 comment:

karen said...

How often do you see pantomimes like that one?