Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Ruined Man

He stood up from the curb
and scuffed toward me,
a ruined man cradling
convenience store coffee
in grubby outstretched hands
As if handcuffed and I held the key
Bearded and filthy and musty,
a black hole of gums
mimicking some language
Ginger-eyed like a cat,
something feral at large
in the neighbourhood
Social grace beaten back
to the primal forest
I was afraid of him,
to be infected, stricken or leapt on
But there was something else emerging,
compassion mingling like smoke
I stood there before him
holding parts of myself
like a good father touched
by the spiced eyes of a child
He spoke as a human being,
calm and eager to tell me
that he wished no money
but only to realize his dreams,
grand designs to show the world,
to prove that he had a place
as an artist among us, some measure
for his living, some purpose to appease
a life lived wrongly
But I had nothing to give him, no hope,
not a dribble of reason or counsel
Then like a fool I glanced to my watch,
a lame gesture of urgency
He seized my arm and I caught
the sun in his savage eyes,
glimpsed the farthest reaches of the Earth,
cinnamon dunes and curried seas,
those eyes that had always known
my melting in the raging fires

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