Tuesday, June 3, 2008

five and dime

and now, my most recent - i finished this at about 1:30 this morning.

the man at the corner of fifth and main
dressed in colorful rags from head to toe
will sell you your future in a cardboard box,
"come on, baby, don't you wanna know?"

i tossed a quarter in his direction
i grabbed the old box to put on my shelf
for rainy days, but it was empty; he
started quoting shakespeare, talking to himself

it's not to be, it's not to be, it's not to be

and the happiest man that i ever knew
died in front of the old five and dime
employed by the city to sing the blues
for a dollar or two, he'd sing you a rhyme

people are always willing to listen to
their troubles sung low by a man on the street
whispering "now, this man, he's seen real problems"
and tossing a crumpled old five at his feet.

his eyes, blue and cloudy, they couldn't see
he hadn't known soap for almost a year
he beckoned me over, his smile ablaze
with some frenzied truth to grace my ear.

"don't wait" he said simply, his voice all low
and colored with years of hardships and snow.

he died later that day, his toothy grin
stuck to his face like an old billboard sign
i'm still turning his words inside my head
the old man that died by the five and dime.

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