#9 — Fight Your Way Out

Street Smarts

Under the bridge where the homeless camp,
a man in a black knit cap and torn army-green kilt
is demonstrating kung-fu moves, or perhaps it is karate.

One of his eyes is as
black and purple as the storm clouds
and swollen shut. A gusting wind rattles the pane.

Joggers, bent into the weather, trot along
the river path, oblivious. A spotted dog in a little yellow
coat darts unleashed around karate man’s ankles.

I sketch a leafless tree on a yellow pad
and remember that the rent is due and I am all out
of bread and eggs, but there is plenty of wine and butter.

The thin glass is streaked with rain and shudders
with leaking cold. Wind whips the branches as the street fighter
leaps into the air, spinning, kicking, jabbing.

I don’t know any moves like that,
wouldn’t know how to kick my way out.
Then, the demonstration is over.

The man waves goodbye to his friends,
pats the dog on the head and walks away
across the tracks, smiling.


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