Passing

by Stephen Cramer

Diagonal bands
                              of green & gold—
               the man’s tie,

lassoed over his hoodie—
                              rocks as he rocks

               on an upside-down
bucket on 53rd,
                              & the amazing thing

               is not that he’s spouting
a continuous log

                              of the sidewalk’s
               tourist shuffle
but that he doesn’t stop:

                              he’s got a rhyme
               for every fabric,

every color & piece
                              of clothing
               so he can even include

the woman stepping out
                              of the sleek Towncar:

     To the missis in heels,           
     you make me feels

     so fine; I think                       
     I feel better than that mink …

before he segues
                              into pleas for cash—

     If you like what I holler
     fork over a dollar

     I take tens, & Honey,
     I’ll even take a twenty …           

& right now even that
                              seems like a bargain
               for a record

of this passing
                              day, & I could sit

               for a while watching
this man distill the city
                              to clause after non-sequiting

               clause, watching the sentence
shrink to the clouds

                              of his breath
               as the conveyor belt
of denim, plaid, corduroy,

                              yes, even paisley, continues:

     hey you in the tweed
     you got what I need,

     I wish I got paid
     like you in the suede

continues till nightfall,
                              when most have found
               where they’re going,

somewhere warm
                              with the properly fluted

               glasses, the right
drinks, & even when sleep
                              tries to make him

               call it quits, he’s got
one last rhyme:

     Man, life is hard
     without a MasterCard

     I knows it when I sees a
     man with a Visa …

I don’t want him
                              to stop, don’t want to let

               a moment go unrecorded.
So as the rest of us
                              get clouded by food

               & drink & talk of the latest
food & drink

                              I put my trust in this stranger—
               though we’re not strangers
to him—& he works out

                              another rhyme
               & another, & that city

in the air continues to billow,
                              will continue to swell
               & crest & surge as long

as his breath can carry it.

Published on July 23, 2011

2020-06-11T00:42:16+00:00