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In the urn of the lengthening day
The man who will die on my street
Is walking backward toward traffic

With his shirt on backward,
A bright orange vest, backward, and
His dirty white hair straight up

As if it were fire.
The rush of a sunset briefly
Appeases him by making windows vivid.

Then a dusk of gray lilacs.
An acrobatic bend of hillside
Seems to prolong the impossibility

Of his salvation. Though
Beleaguered, his brain is stuck on
Hope. (My girlfriend,

The German film-maker, is pregnant—
With twins!
he says, dangling two used
Baby shoes in front of me.) He sings

A rough-hewn lullaby.
Virginia, his sister, whispers
Zen prayers in a single whimper.

She helps him sit down in front of the café,
More helpless than a bird, she thinks. But he is
Grinning, thanking God for the kindness

Of the yellow-haired goddesses who
Drive by waving. Hey, Tony, they say
How’s life in the fast lane?

It’s a fucking nightmare, he replies.

Gail Wronsky is the author, coauthor, or translator of thirteen books of poetry and prose. She teaches creative writing and women's literature at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
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