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Two Poems by Beverly Lafontaine

To the Homeless Man Lying Beneath the Overpass


Between you and the smoke-choked sun

tons of cement, asphalt, reinforced

steel allow the passing overhead

of twentieth century

chariots to their allotted

missions: home, hungry mouths and

mewling bleach- rinsed dreams.


You on your makeshift bed, one leg

outstretched, the other bent at the

knee in a classic lounging pose,

like me with the Sunday paper.

How do you do it with the world

passing by, with me passing by,

my bags filled with strawberries,

yogurt and an assortment of meat?


You’ve carved a place to live,

absent walls, out of common space

once reserved for wolf yearnings and

furtive splatters under the north star.

How you came to this means little.

Who looks for you, calls your name still,

lurks in the dark terror of your skull,

a blinkered battalion of ghosts.


At home I ponder your phantoms

in the mirror, my hands dutiful

to the prescribed 20 seconds

of soap and running water.

Every blink of my eyes conjures

a scene of endless blue sky or

warm hearth, yours or mine, a mirage

flickering above tar and mud.



 

May 25, 2020



Every morning begins in shadow.

Outside light slithers in, reshaping

chair, dresser, table

into childhood memories gauzy

with years of neglect.


Life is a busy thing.

If not the waning love,

then the stumbling child.

If not the failing body,

then the forgotten promise.

If not the fading dream,

then the lie revealed.


Today we all witnessed,

the death of a man,

his pleas, his struggles,

his body’s attempt

to survive,


to breathe.


In memory of George Floyd, born October 14, 1973



 


Beverly Lafontaine is a Los Angeles-born poet and playwright. She has enjoyed four productions of her plays in the Los Angeles area and has had her poetry published in various poetry journals and anthologies, including online journals Poets Reading the News and MORIA as well as print journals Spillway, Beyond the Lyrical Moment, Blue Satellite, and So Luminous the Wildflowers. Four of her poems appear in Waves, the current anthology of women poets published by the AROHO Foundation. Her cross-genre projects include six of her poems incorporated into Walk a Mile in My Shoes, a sculptural art project erected by the City of Los Angeles in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King and Scenes from Sarajevo in which she collaborated with composer Tom Flaherty to produce a prize-winning chamber music piece for voice, cello and viola.

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