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The Homeless Man

© Copyright 1997 Marsha Campbell

After I read
I prop myself up on a book
and try to write.

Yesterday as I left the BART station
I saw a man acting as if (as we say)
at war with himself, commandeering
without wit, the opposite staircase
by the nightmare of his appearance.

He rocked his knees up in the air
while his ass bounced on the step.
Then his ass and knees were exchanged,
he was reaching for a brown p aper bag
drenched in pinkish red paint.

His hands were layered with it, and
the lower half of his face (except
for a Goyesque smile) gums almost
failing to meet teeth, mouth expanded
like Kronos devouring his children.

The lids of his eyes were full of
patient hope, as they came together
in a baby's breath. but the latex
drops that covered his arms were as if
he had eaten his hands and the blood

exploded. I couldn't picture his lungs.
The bag kept getting away from him.
On the step by his side stood a large
spray can diseased with the substance.
I asked myself what should I do with him.

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