At the north central bus station,
fashioned from the rib of a skyscraper,
sat an overcoated old man gasping in a mild breeze
of exhaust, apple blossoms, and cigarette smoke.
He tugged at the strap of my bag as if I were the signal to get off.
"Take this," he said,
his eyes marbling up.
First, he drew a morning glory vine from his sleeve.
It made me queasy to imagine
where the root of it might be,
twining into the gray, dying husk of him.
"Don't encourage him," my mother's gone voice
jabbered in my ear,
correct, picked clean, horrible.
"No thank you," I said, borrowing a tongue.
Next, the palsied old fool produced a large, bright coin from a huge pocket.
Goddess only knows what lives in there,
minting rot and 78rpm records with knifey names
and purple labels.
"Take it!" he urged, holding it at me.
The bus station vendors will sell you anything--
tired sodas, foreign brides,
pills, candy, ID's, bird bones.
My sticky companion probably got his coin in change
when he bought a last breath
with wishes and turpentine.
"It's the Bright Coin of Forgiveness."
He looked like an open bible.
I wondered if I could take the coin,
file it down,
and split somebody's skull with it.
Someone who'd toyed with my heart,
or raised me
in a pen with the starved cats
Just like that, the old nutjob died,
dangling on the far end of instant erasure.
His coin fell.
I picked it up
quick as a juiced bus station sparrow,
and set it carefully over his good eye.
"I forgive you," I whispered,
though he had done nothing to me.
Everyone made a path for me to the 415
and in that moment I felt
and so utterly alone.
for Bjorn's goose at Real Toads.
I wrote thirty poems
counts as the last one