My socks are small trash bags,
and the street number of my house is zero.
Garbage cans are my walls on winter nights.
I hug myself to stay warm in the light
leaking from windows and keyholes.
Broken street lamps and flapping shingles
tower above me. Even low-rent dwellers
luxuriate in heat and power. I lack a basic
fire barrel but have lots of time to burn.
An old woman hugged by a shawl
peeks out from her door. Light that feels
like fire to my frozen arms steps outside,
perhaps a gift or a secret slipped out—
or dare I think, an invitation. I wait
like a prowler cloaked in black ice shadows,
fear eviction but fancy I am her cat to call in.
Her carpet of light rolls back inside.
We both settle down to purrs or growls
of our living rooms.
She was only putting out the trash.
Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where he edits the literary journal Kentucky Review. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Diary of the Last Person on Earth (Sybaritic Press 2014) and Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014).
Mr. King, I love how you put yourself in the place of a homeless person. Very touching. Thank you for this poem.