It was years ago, in better times,
While I was walking along the streets
Scuffing them for dimes,
That I saw the man.
He just sat, his back to the wall,
Staring at nothing, as if all
The people wandering by
Were moving too quickly to catch his eye.
His coat was rather nice, so
I watched him for a little while,
Finally seeing the big red smile
Not on his face, but just below.
Squatting down, I gently peered
Into the small dark holes
With pale green around them
That marked the trail to his soul.
I am gone, they said;
What sits before you
With snow in its hair
Is cold and dead
And can never care
About muddling through.
Discussion over, I walked away
To do the things I always do,
And never thought about the man
Until just now, when I looked at you.
I wrote this many years ago after reading a line in a story about someone having “a big drooly red grin, not on his face” and I built a poem around it.
Copyright © 2018 by Jack Herlocker. All rights reserved, including the right to have the dead man look at you and wink.