He knew she had a special
meaning for him the first time
he saw her, from his usual seat
by the window in the diner, waiting
for his bagel and cream cheese,

and she at the table along
the window of the Starbucks across
the street, which might as well
have been an ocean, so unlikely
was either to make a crossing.

By the third time she had noticed
him, and offered a polite wave,
which he gladly returned, each
assuming it was an act of civility,
each, at least he, hoping it could be more.

He thought, briefly, about dashing
across the street and meeting her,
but he was no fan of coffee, less
by far of what Starbucks served,
and their bagels, well enough said.

So they went on with waves and nods,
until the day he looked and she
wasn’t there, and he knew she had
moved on without him, left him behind
or found a place with good coffee.

Publsihed in Mehfil, #8 August 2020


He crawls out from under the blue tarp
strung between two trees and a park bench
with the first light of morning breaking
over Shinjuku Chuo park, slowly erasing
the shadows cast by the Metropolitan Government Building.
He neatens the surrounding concrete,
ready for the soon to be arriving crowd
that appear each morning for Tai Chi.
As the elderly men and women pass,
he bows slightly to each and each
gently returns the bow with a smile.
He goes off to visit friends by the
Kumano Shrine, knowing that when he returns
he will likely find the empty covered tin
that sits on the stone that marks his
blue plastic home replaced with another
with sticky rice and bits of dried fish
or pickled vegetables, for in this
always teeming city, there is
even a great civility to homelessness.