With his shopping cart, his bags of booty and his wine, I'd
always found him inoffensive.
Every neighborhood has one or two these days; ours never
rants at you at least or begs.
He just forages the trash all day, drinks and sings and
shadowboxes, then at nightfall
finds a doorway to make camp, set out his battered little radio
and slab of rotting foam.
The other day, though, as I was going by, he stepped abruptly
out between parked cars,
undid his pants, and, not even bothering to squat, sputtered out
a noxious, almost liquid stream.
There was that, and that his bony shanks and buttocks were
already stained beyond redemption,
that his scarlet testicles were blown up bigger than a bull's with
some sorrowful diease,
and that a slender adolescent girl from down the block
happened by right then, and looked,
and looked away, and looked at me, and looked away again,
and made me want to say to her,
because I imagined what she must have felt, It's not like this
really, it's not this,
but she was gone, so I could think, But isn't it like this, isn't
this just what it is?
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