rumdumb from last night’s shrubbery tryst
exhales soot, fernseed, shoots and vines,
brings his hot breath from the city park’s wood,
saying a song we don’t understand
through the briar and bay leaves of his beard.
And in Philadelphia, 1954,
out of late autumn’s darkening he came,
a junkman lugging a Penn Fruit cart,
straw bristling his face, crying a name.
Or from manholes in other cities,
his holographic ectoplasm greets us
when traffic lights turn green.
Uncover and there he is, membranous
Caliban alone with sewer rats,
or stumblebum Puck, unnameable solids
crusting nails and toes, bringing us his dark.
Or our neighborhood’s soused John-John,
cobra down-at-heel boots skidding
at my feet among the maddening jasmine,
when I grab too late to save him growls:
“I can save you darling pigs.
Behold, behold, and maybe I’ll help.”
By W. S. Di Piero.