New York City skyline at night




Jim Tolan

A Penniless Piece of Spent Fashion

Who wears my father's face today,
a man miscast before the weather,
rain-splattered, unsure that he is loved?

Who huddles beneath the cold and gray
as north wind bitter slants sharp rain
against the tattered sway of him?

Who wants dry clothes, stiff drink to warm
and unweary his besotted bones,
an ear to fill with liquored yarn?

Who on grim earth alone would wage
a moment's hope on a needle's-eye
chance of resurrection? The son,

whose father's ragged specter, begs
each passing mortal hand and eye
for what small mercies fall his way,

whose cup of coins becomes his wine,
his heart as mine, faithless and forlorn,
forgetful of what follows rain,

who shades the sun's return—forgiveness
and the muddy-footed crow sent to claw
some clay of hope from life interred,

who finds land the too-white dove demurred
and knows this rain-cloaked creature, famished
and loosed to squalor, whose bloodshot teeth,

whose tartared gaze, I catch before I crush
a twenty into his hand. Rummy eyes,
the crusted corners of his lucred grin.



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