Reading by Tommy Blackwolf
For The River Muse Journal’s Winter Challenge 2013
Across misty blue skies I look overhead to see jet trails
people going somewhere, anywhere but here
I set up shop along the roadside by Wal-Mart
Constant traffic passes like a parade ~
all sorts and sizes: mini-vans, suvs, trucks, and compacts
each car in a single lane stopping straight across from me
I hold my private court one-by-one in broad daylight
they look straight at me with invisible eyes
Joe says, “You know people feel better when they can do something nice for someone”
Roadside Joe offers me a place to stay today
we move from place to place setting up shop at new way stations
littered with plastic sacks and asphalt cracks
Found among fence rows along common roadside signs
what if I make my own hand-made cardboard sign, neat and easy to read?
hoping I spell the words right: “Scared, pregnant, need money for rent”
I stare back and look away keeping my brown eyes down
I face these strangers with backward glances
I can’t see their eyes, I wonder if they see mine
Will they give me money or make me listen to why they can’t pay?
sitting up partially, I try to decide whether to walk over
a teenage driver laughs and quickly pulls away ~ “Damn, what a jerk!”
No hits for over an hour, I need a break
my car is in the parking lot
I can check on my kid and have a smoke
What if I learn to play this game?
walking over the ledge . . .
I simply go from one day to the next, begging for granted treasures
Looking up again to see a half-moon rising
nodding in agreement, one-half here and one-half not
praying out loud – “Doesn’t really matter ~ just like me!”
These roadside signs during daylight hours. . . I hope my daughter never knows!