I see them, not looking away I just look through.
One day I break the rule and talk to them.
The old man used to be something, before the street life.
She is still someone’s wife – practically a person she says, laughing.
They don’t need my concern, just the occasional dollar,
a few cigarettes. She looks like my mother’s cousin.
Her name is Angela.
He is an expert collector of bottles and cans,
keeps them fed between shelter meals.
Angela is also an expert in her way and keeps them in wine.
I almost didn’t notice they were gone.
Then one day a new guy with a sign and cup is in the alleyway.
I broke the rule again, asked why him not them.
His brown-stained coat shrugged, he looked at his cup.
I dropped a five and he told me a story: the old man Barry died
real sudden maybe in a shelter, heart attack maybe. Angela maybe
went back home, somewhere in some state, maybe Detroit or
Idaho maybe.
Sometimes the streets are just like the rest of the world.
People die unexpectedly in odd places.
Some go home to Detroit or Idaho.
One day you’re something, the next something else.
Many are expert, in their way.
Everyone looks like someone’s cousin
-and no matter where you are, Angela is a beautiful name.