Today's poem is by Rhoda Janzen


The sky for once turns pink
instead of gray, softening
the plastic-draped stacks
of crap on sagging porches.
Ahead a drunk tries and fails

to thread the intersection's
needle with unsteady legs.
I see him so often it's easy
to imagine that we're friends
who daily walk together,

who in the half-light share
pale secrets. My friend
means to keep drinking
until he passes out forever,
erasing complications as

I do on the board after class.
From him I have learned
how to stitch the white
sheet of sidewalk with
curly steps, and how

to tuck the sheet over
the problematized porches
of the poor. In return I
have advised him not to leave
a note. It's best to clean your

boards completely before you
go, as a courtesy to the class
behind you, though of course
your erased words will still
vaguely persist, inchoate and

obscure, like footprints
under snow. Before he veers
onto 16th, he turns and waves
suddenly, his hat awry. So
begins our long good-bye.

Copyright © 2006 Rhoda Janzen All rights reserved
from the Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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