Bare Feet



October’s Indian summer glared.
Sunlight bounced off sizzling metal,
windshields, busses, billboards, street signs and steel rimmed buildings.
Liquefied waves ricocheted off the tops of heads,
White heat shot from the gold five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars that lined the sidewalks.
The flash of sun rebounded off a wheat beige paunch
through my car’s rolled up window
into the corner of my eye.


It was gleaming pale
in the blazing sun,
tight stretched skin
pulled across
a bulging naked pot belly
swollen beyond the elastic waist band
of his black sweat pants.
The right front pocket dangled against his leg
pulled inside out,

had he been digging for change,
that secret he’d kept hidden,
a memory he couldn’t find?

His right arm
hand-less sewn stump,
hung lifeless by his side.

He stood facing East,
looking at the sky,
planted at the intersection of circumstance and Hollywood Blvd.

It wasn’t that he seemed lost,
confused, alone.
It wasn’t that people surrounded him
rushed by without a glance in his direction.
It wasn’t that he was stripped stark
on a relentless day.

It was his feet.
Bare, charcoaled, black.
His feet.
Stained, worn, black.
His feet.
Beat-up, black,
from stepping on cracked cement, burning cigarette butts, discarded bottle caps, sparkling shards of green brown beer bottles, crumpled tissue that wiped a pedestrian eye or running nose, melting tarred spilled coffee, blue, cola, cherry, chewed gum Slurpee from the near by 7-Eleven.

Dead dreams.
Soles black.
Cracked broken hot soiled sticky leathered scarred marked scorched city grimed black.

I look at my feet.
Clean, polished, smooth, lotioned,
comfortable in soft white sandals.

I see him take a step
then another.
How can I help, I wonder.
I play scenarios in my head.

There are possibilities:
take him to a shelter, offer food, money, a shower.

But the light turns green
and he continues westbound
drifting away from Highland.



I drive north,
pointed toward acknowledgement
and my unfolding life.

It seems unfair.

A small prayer,
I whisper.
Send a wish,
send a slice of peace,
send a breath,
send a kind thought,
some comfort.

That was yesterday.
Today I still wonder