March 19, 2008

The Man Across

There is a man across
from me on the downtown R train.

He reeks
of cheap brown liquor. There are beer cans
beneath his seat, scattered
like abandoned toys.

He wears a paper hospital ID bracelet.
His hair is matted and dirty.
He needs a shave.
His eyes are bloodshot blue.

He bears a wooden cross
upon a battered rosary that drapes
piously across
his dirty, spattered shirtfront.

He mutters to himself,
gesturing with a Gatorade bottle.
(It isn't filled with Gatorade.)
I think I hear him say,

"Kafka was right."

I want to ask him
what Kafka was right about,
but this is New York,
we don't do that here.

The train doors open
for me. It's my stop. I wonder
where his train goes after
I get off.