What You Cross the Street to Avoid

You assume that a blind man can sing
and that he can afford a guitar.

You say, “Less is more”
to a woman whose children need new shoes.

You don’t listen to your daughter’s questions.
She stops asking them.

The one time I went without eating
my thoughts ran away from me.

Handed a bowl of soup, I felt its weight.
I nearly dropped it.

W.C. Handy’s song about St. Louis
doesn’t mention his empty belly

or how stiff his back was
from sleeping on cobblestones under a bridge.

He sang of a man whose heart
was a rock cast in the sea.

About Bill Ayres

Bill Ayres has spent most of his life running or helping to run bookstores. He has suggestions about what you should read. His poems have appeared recently in Commonweal, Hoot, The Trinity Review, and The Roanoke Review.

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