Halfway between population and scenery,
too flimsily constructed to fit in with the bricks,
not constructed enough to look like he belongs there--
He’s still got patience for their pretense--
those overgrown kids in overgrown, super-sized toys--
adult-sized babies trying to hide
that they were never cute behind bangs and mismatched clothing
like a diversion from the vapid steam that rises off them--
or maybe that’s because they didn’t shower today
for fear of washing off their inspiration.
Either way, they don’t have any spare change for him
because they’re in art school and all their extra cash
goes to PBR and Parliaments.
If a building disappeared during the coldest winter months,
maybe we’d all wonder, read about it in the paper
but no one seems to mind his absence--
no one seems to mind having that extra few dollars in quarters
smoldering in the ash tray;
that change adds ballast when you’re driving on ice.
Groundhogs can suck it--
I know it’s Spring when he’s out there again,
quietly scratching his history into the sidewalk
with thrift store shoes
bought by necessity, not choice.
Whether you give him money or not,
he’s the only real smile,
the only real person inhabiting Grand Avenue
and it’s his weathered cardboard sign,
not some grandiose bronze statue
that spells out so concisely
“there is still beauty here.”