Old Man on a Bench

The old man sits alone on the park bench,
Knocking ashes out of his pipe onto the seat
And looking over his left shoulder as if
Waiting for someone special to show up.
Except that he has no one special
And even if he did they wouldn’t show up to see him.
He knows that, and sometimes marvels
At the depth of his lonesomeness
And wretchedness.
He finishes banging his pipe,
Its bowl scarred with the impact
Of park benches and concrete steps,
Light posts and car bumpers,
And reaches into his coat pocket for the tobacco.
He shivers and utters a “whoo,”
Something he does quite often
Even when sitting in the sun on a warm day.
A pigeon in the grass waddles up onto the concrete walk
In front of the bench and pecks at some dark pebbles.
The old man reaches into his tobacco pouch,
Pulls out a pinch of the golden brown blend and,
Reaching forward, drops it near his left foot.
The pigeon waddles over to take a look,
Pecks at the bits of tobacco,
Then turns his tail toward the old man
And shits on his shoe.
The old man kicks the pigeon,
Sending it flying across the sidewalk into the grass.
Taking a handkerchief out of his pants pocket,
He bends over and wipes the shit from his shoe,
Puts the handkerchief back in his pocket,
Stands up from the bench and walks away,
Looking for a different empty bench.

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