Out walking

Here's the risk:            snapping the mental thread that will guide me back to my hotel.
But there’s no help for it—I have to be on the streets,
could not stand more confinement after fourteen hours in the grip of airlines.

Every sight carries me
deeper and deeper into the compelled metropolitan crowds.

What the dogs wear on their walks, and the walkers—
a beige knit tracksuit for a beagle leashed to a gamin in his fifties sporting a green blazer
who converses with fellow in a parka and a smile that shows he’s heading for heaven.
There is more conversation than ambulation in the gait of these dog masters
            a collie rests its lanks on the pavement, its tongue on its jaw
            a mangier mutt conducts surveillance along the flower beds.

Hard to unpack these canine citizens and their equal-minded human handlers,
but leaving their migrations put me in the company of beggers
masters of the services no one needs:            plastic flowers, selfie sticks, garish tall tales.

I made progress right up to the balliwick of a misbegotten who brought me to a halt,
as he looked exactly like an old friend of mine—same chin, same scraggles,
same pensive eyes.
Yes, exactly my old friend, had he indulged in a couple extra shots of rye each night.
After three steps my dollar lay in the beggar’s cracked teacup.
But if him, why not all the others?
            Why not the immobile mahogany wretch outside the convenience store?
            Or the one who graced the historic church vestibule with her blanket?
            Or the paunchy harmonica player hyperventilating cheap pop tunes?
And so I deliver justice with an outstretched arm.

More penniless now than the remaining bums,
I weave around them as nimbly as the purposeful bicyclists—
            couriers and day-trippers on wheels of oblivion
            poising at intersections with projectial intent.

As I trample the stones in chafing shoes,
I finally enter the park,
a convention center for balloons and umbrellas—
            yes, the rain has decided to put our region on its itinerary,
            and it is time for me to seek out a sodden way back home.

Andy Oram
May 28, 2018

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