The Man No One Knows

No one knows his name, but he’s always around.
As he pulls his discarded garden wagon
down the street the people headed
toward him just seem to peel away.

At the thrift shop, he stops to drop off clothes
he can’t use, gleaned from trash bins.
As he enters, the girl at the counter retreats
past beaded curtains and punches 3 digits into her cell.
He dumps his donation on the counter and is gone.

As he passes the homeless shelter, he
hawks up a loogie to launch at the sign
but on hearing footsteps, swallows it down.
He has hated that place, since he stayed there
one time. It wasn’t just the sweaty vinyl
mattresses on the floor or the food they
served up in the molded pink plastic trays.

What really twisted his gut were the dark
blue pills they pushed on him to “help” straighten
his thinking. He was pleased when his voices
told him to cheek them to spit out later.

In the graffiti covered dumpster
behind the luncheonette he discovers
dinner, an untouched Italian sub.
A worker carrying trash emerges,
sets it down by the door and retreats.

After finding a deserted warehouse
he clears a space to eat and sleep among
the dust and broken bottles. When sated,
he lobs leftovers to new-found four-legged
friends. He sleeps, one ear open, in his lice infested
sleeping bag placed atop scraps of carpet.

Slamming doors awaken him…
By the time the flashlight of the doddering
watchman washes over his hideaway,
the only evidence of his presence
is the dust-free space on the floor.

Robert Paul Allen lives on a lake near the coast of Maine. He is surrounded daily by the state’s rugged beauty. He worked in the medical field in patient care and has seen the gamut of human trials and tribulations. The human condition inspires much of his poetry. He has been a serious poet for the past five years and has published 31 poems. His first chapbook, Between the Panes has just been published. He believes he still has something to say. Read other articles by Robert Paul.