by Len Krisak (September 2012)
His toes aspire to the station vault,
The lace gone missing from one pointed shoe.
That this might not be anybody's fault:
A thought that for the nonce will have to do.
Meanwhile, he sleeps beneath a tattered plaid
That might have blanketed a horse, the stench
Enveloping his laid-out form so bad,
No patron will go near the skinny bench.
The madly tonsured skull lies cosseted
By plastic shopping bags that show the care
Somebody took to prop one ragged head;
Their puffed-up contents crib a shawl of hair.
The shoe still laced has loosed whatever bow
It knew, and now must show the sole undone.
Who would have thought an old man’s peeping toe
Had so much blood to dry and crust and run
Again from one black suppurating sore?
Surely not those who wonder at the gall
Of someone who, so deeply gone, could snore
Away the world, his face turned toward the wall,
And countenance the “D” train, distant once,
Now hell-bent on announcing its arrival
In time to drown the wheezes, rales, and grunts
He greets it with in somnolent survival?
And yet that livid vital sign gives proof
That after all is done, but little said,
Mere life has come to rest beneath this roof.
The train roars out to wake some other dead.
Len Krisak has published in The London Magazine, The Oxonian Review, PN Review, Standpoint, Agni, The Antioch Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson Review, The Dark Horse, Agenda, The Hopkins Review, Commonweal, Literary Imagination, The Oxford Book of Poems on Classical Mythology, and others. His latest book is Virgil’s Eclogues, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010
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