Footsteps on the pavement

The shuffle of duct-taped form

A tired repetition

Against the changing hum and squeal of traffic,

Jangle of coins in his cup,

The hiss of wind

Always walking to the same places,

Every day, every month

With a purpose but no destination,


He's the man mothers point out to their children,

And say, "Count your blessings"

He's a constant reminder of poverty, the gutter's unwelcome ambassador

Out of all the city, he's the man with the very most nothing

Just raw morning skies,

And the red and gold laughter of sun on rough skin,

November's cool hush,

The peace when you lose count of raindrops

And snow.

Rush-hour traffic that blurs the sound of footsteps

Walking in a knot of tattered denim and cotton,

Rough sweaters marked with a decades holes and stains,

The smell of sweat, decay, liquor,

Under shrouds of car exhaust and charred dust,

Shadows smudged beneath eyes

That don't fade.

Sometimes people pass him,

Toss a few quarters and dimes in his cup, then flinch and hurry past

And he rarely looks up.

I wonder if that's a symptom of his insanity or addiction,

Or something else.

How can someone crazy follow such order?

Walk the same streets at exactly the same time each day,

When lawyers and CEOs always seem off schedule,

Businessmen turning down wrong roads, relying on the GPS systems in expensive cars,

Coming home late

Yet for him, its always the same ally at the end of the day,

When the rush-hour voices silence and dusk turns the sky blue-gray,

Quiet as a prayer,

It's a homeless man who's the one

That never gets lost