Doug Beardsley

 On the street I am permitted to walk
among the burial mounds and discarded lumps
covered by cardboard, canvas or soiled rags
of sleeping bags that look like body bags
scattered over a battlefield in this city
that always sleeps, a city where owners
open their doors for business at 10
take two hours for lunch, and close at 5
during the height of the summer season.
The homeless bed down in delirium.
Emerging from his stony sleep, the man
before me is like a tourist in his
own town; he has been up since dawn & sits
propped against a graffiti-covered wall
reading aloud from the poems of Hart Crane –
I have drawn my hands away/ toward peace
and the grey margins of the day … .

The unexpected interest made him flush
but it was I who blushed, until
suddenly he seemed to forget the pain
he lived by, consented, -- & held out one
soiled, nail-bitten finger from the others.
What was I to make of this miracle?
Nothing I knew. We stood together like
two men and smiled into each other’s eyes.