The bar is stacked high with dead
chairs, legs up. The neon signs are black.
A train moans in from the north
as a March flurry softens the streets.
Into the halo of streetlamp light
an old man chases his breath.
His hair is gray and shines with sweat,
his bony breast bare beneath his jacket.
It’s as if he fell from a play,
has Poor Tom’s muddy look,
Prospero’s long nose, Hamlet’s heated gaze.
As George, the bartender, locks up,
the old man begs a beer.
The blade of a knife slits through his pocket.
George says, “It’s after two, come back tomorrow.”
A long pause, the train again, a dog barking
at the ghost of a rabbit.
Then the old man is off down the alley,
his knife dreaming in the bed of his coat,
the snow swirling in circles like a dog
looking for a place to sleep.