American Jazz Quartet
In the Lobby, Not the Doorman
In the evening when people are returning home
anxious to abandon the strain of these attentions,
he comes downstairs from his apartment
and stakes out the bench in the lobby
by the elevators where he has everybody
who enters the building trapped
into socializing with him, if by even
no more than an annoyed nod and a tired
look away from a cheer come of the predatory.
Their dresses, how good they look, how he'll be up
for dinner at their place in a minute,
how he knows you out there makin' all that money.
The people in this building are out there
making like he must have at one time.
Or done, made it and sat down. These floors aren't cheap.
He's harmless. But how we haunt our own success.
standing on the corner begging
for company a little change
in conversation something different
made of to have to come up with
by the see you later or else
be in that killing
loneliness of a room even on the street
stopping people still left alone –
old crime neither poor nor disorderly
just vagrant time's old crime of age
unaddressed victim nor perpetrator just
a man whose only empty pockets are of people
come around asks if you can spare a little
while so he can make the train home
Then There's This One, Pick Him Up
pick him up and take him to the jail
of his winnings, take him into house arrest
up from his success, winner lifted
out of his easy to get to by people, drive
the diamond under his fingernail
up through the flesh to pimple as
his wearing and pop light in folks' eyes
having his nothing come from
funny money –
but a callous disease from discipline
that cuts him off is no joke
size chile who's got nor his own
he's somebody else's crime for his time
Funds for Charity
An angry generosity
comes from the careless hold he has
on what little he has;
much is taken.
And angered if not from that, then that
he goes along with his losses too
too pride-hustled to question.
is always wanting back,
never clear he has given, only sure
the gleaners expect too much.
Then, angry resentment
at the little he has for spill
compared to that his privilege has
to flurry from for him, for white's own
on its white landfill,
that cold storm of trickle down
from coffers vast and out of reach,
privately owned as the sky,
the deaf sky.