image borrowed from bing
In Vagrantus Veritas
He awakened at first light
as a commuter train rumbled by
on a parallel bridge, and found himself
distracted by the strong fresh oder of feces--
Christ, Billy had taken a shit near his head this morning,
then packed up and boogied, heading for the Mission.
He was lying alone on a steep slant of the riverbank,
knuckles deep into the urine-soaked soft dirt under
the bridge, listening to the river making soft
gurgling noises as it slipped under the
great green girders above him, while
traffic busily pounded and slapped
the bridge deck.
The sun broke through dozens of steel meshed rectangles
creating a squadron of morning rays that lined up in
close order like reluctant soldiers clear across the
wide lethargic gray ripples
as he sat up and stretched, unclasping his filthy pea coat,
the last remnant of his service to his country. He had a
penchant for real wool, for it could capture the true
essence of the person wearing it, sweetening
the sweat, breathing as he did.
He reached deep into a shirt pocket and pulled out a yellowed
photograph, unfolding it carefully in his dirty fingers and
stared at the image of his ex-wife, in her red bikini,
sitting seductively on a cushioned swing
on the deck of the house he once owned
while inhabiting a fake utopian daydream
that would morph into a dystopian nightmare;
becoming the person in rags he presently resided within--
dysfunctional, divorced, desperate, masterless,
jobless, homeless and hungry, a mock
menace to society, a fringe dweller.
“Good morning, Esther,”
he hoarsely whispered into the hot wind,
habitually embracing his quaint custom
of greeting his past as if it could hear
him, as if someone, somewhere
“What’s for breakfast?”
he inquired while rolling up his tattered tarter sleeping bag,
and tying it onto the top of his slashed up back pack,
then walking to the edge of the thick vegetation
growing on both sides of the bridge, he urinated
on some blackberry vines that had been heavy
with gray-brown dust, looking like dead
herbarium residents, smiling
as their true green complexions appeared
in the steaming puddles of piss.
“No, honey, you just sleep some more.
I will fix my own breakfast.”
He fished around in the bulging pack and extracted a kid-sized
red box of raisins, and stuffed it into one of his unbuttoned
shirt pockets while pounding the bridge powder off
his clothes, then swung his heavy pack onto his
broad shoulders and walked stiffly out into the
brightness, squinting into the feral face
of that day’s potential.
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