I watch raindrops coalesce, form greedy beads that run
laterally across the inside trim of supermarket awning,
skirting stalactites of spattered guano, congregating
into a boardroom bubble of ballooning moisture.
Anticipation of gravity’s snatch captivates the eye.
The sagging sphere dips and bobs, insouciant as a showgirl
shaking tail feathers, tantalizing but never submitting.
The microcosm of this moment mutes life, pauses
percussive resonance of guttural echoes, barked laughter;
bold bass notes numbed, pulped to dim slurry
– auditory sluice.
Shoes pass in purposeful perambulation, ankles and trouser hems
bid silent ‘good morning’, marching their mechanical masters
onward to carve a piece of compliance
from diseased trees of sedative social slavery.
A badly rolled cigarette appears at my feet,
tossed by ‘mate’, the most recent addition to our troupe
of malnourished musketeers.
There’s always a ‘mate’, a ‘pal’, an unknown quantity
lingering on the periphery of inclusion, feeding
into the solidarity of squalor
as if the trappings of the destitute are membership passes.
We’ll take in the weak, but only at arm’s length.
Names are for the known.
Paul claims Porthos; portly for a man on a strictly cider-based diet,
his days spent chasing that bottle-shaped carrot on a stick.
His imbalanced moods, a perpetually flipped coin, but
one thing is constant;
his barrel-house belly-laugh resonating
through the corridor of storefronts we call home.
Andy bags Aramis; roadside raconteur, trolley-park predator,
opportunist of the lowest order, always quick
with patter and persistence to see more than feet passing by,
employer of gentle manipulation, mollycoddled coercion,
Andy could alchemize lead just by talking to it but in the end,
all that glitters is sold for sharp rocks.
Amelia broods as Athos, rubbing single-serving sachets of salt
into her eyes until capillaries pop; weeping Madonna,
wildfire hair, clutched back by a rubber-band, underfed belly
exposed under a garish crop-top proclaiming ‘BABE’,
plucking the strings of less frigid hearts, fluttering feathers
of feral men and buttering deals with blowjobs
around the back of the clothing bank recycling silos –
the ones where she shops for garments.
I call dishevelled d’Artagnan.
I lead by example in my detached demeanour,
abstracted from the slipstream of society, shaken
like dander from a dog’s back.
I could quote Oscar but its raindrops I see, not stars.
They speak to me – liquid philosophy, free and forthcoming –
smears on a wiped windscreen;
saviour of scorched earth;
unwelcome extinguisher of cigarettes and barbecues;
first droplets announcing the end of the drought;
last drops to break the dam, destroy the village,
alone they pass but their existence
always marked in the measure of their collective effect.
One raindrop does not make a monsoon,
but it can mean bigger things to come.
Under the flickering strip lights of our hallowed canopy, we sit,
we smoke and drink and pass time; occasionally toss out
a greeting or a blessing to ignorant feet.
We watch the rain that you run from, our moments like the
heavy, falling past in wet monotony but our collective puddle,
deep as it is,
keeps us together.
By the way, do you have any spare change, please?
It’s alright. Bless you and have a good day.