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Poetry #330
(published May 17, 2007)
On the Floor
by Jonathan Hayes
the bum was laying on the floor of the train in front of the doors playing with his small straw hat which had a black cotton band around it; his denim overalls were shouldered and underneath them a red and white checkered shirt; to complete the outfit, white sneakers with no socks.

he wasn't talking to himself or violent, just wanted to lay down and play with his hat.

then he got up and sat down on the plastic seat opposite me and my girl; his hair was a thick grayish white and his beard a healthy fullness that was enjoyable to look at.

his face had the wear and tear of a jugman, the humor of a clown, and a dash of handsome class.

he reminded me of the older, wiser, and more beat-up men i had met on the road or in the orchard or up north in alaska.

with a university library book in hand, i told my girl, "he reminds me of the characters in this book" — i timed this remark when he had his hat off and was roughing up his hair with closed eyes, thinking he wouldn't catch what i said in low breath.

he muttered something, which i ignored even though it was shot in my direction,
then i clearly heard him say, "what book are you reading?"

i said, of mice and men.

in a suave manner, he spat out all the books writ by the great writers that i had yet to read,
and told me that american writing had gone downhill since edgar allen poe, and by the time things got to steinbeck, american writing had gotten tacky.

he mentioned why orwell wrote 1984 and what the leftists thought of it.

talked about ezra pound being paraded down the street in a glass cube to the asylum.

and suggested that if i like fine writing to check out wyndham lewis.

our train pulled into powell station, and i asked, "you really don't like steinbeck?"
he softly said, "not really, grapes of wrath is ok — the movie is great."

my girl and i stood up; i flashed him the peace sign and smiled behind my macy's designer sunglasses.

his face sculptured into a solid lock of sincerity and gave me a saint nick wink with its blue eye.

this jugman laying on the train floor, you would think he had no possessions.

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The Next Poetry piece (from Issue #331):

The Black Dude
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On the West Side
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Love, Death, etc.
by Howard Good

Unhappy Holidays
by Larry Gaffney

by Larry Gaffney

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