Parking Lot Panhandler

The heavy part is over by the time
a shadow falls across the bag
and a black hand pats
a second fifty pound load
into place in the trunk.
Thank you isn’t enough;
the man wants some change
but the change we have
isn’t small. He looks needy,
walks off balance, and the bones
don’t sit right in his skin.
I’m thinking Go away
but he just hangs there
like garlic breath after a meal.
He could use one himself
so we look inside the purse
and out comes a five,
too much for little effort
with much insistence
but promising to wheel away the cart
he folds the note into his pocket
before pushing for a few short yards
leaving an obstruction to the slow
stream of cars as he hurries
to the next overburdened person
with his slanted face beneath a dirty hat
and a wicked swivel
in his hips that steers him through
the gaps between Prius and Escape.
Call out to embarrass him.
Call Security.
Get him cornered
and ask for the money back.
He’s slipping away.
Looking for a dollar
without giving in return.
He’s a fraud
in every sense, except
for starving on his feet.

David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix since 1978. He grew up in England with watching soccer as a major part of life although he has managed to move on to other interests since then, including reading and writing poetry. Read other articles by David.