The Potomac - Poetry and Politics
December 2006 - THE POTOMAC

News And a Cigarette
   Suzanne Nielson

She said he had wild eyes,
the man across the hall.
Made his hair, or lack of, more noticeable.
Made her chew the inside of her mouth
until she'd taste the raw red metal
skin hidden within the cave
of her hollow cheek.
At exactly 6:57 each morning
when his door opened
to retrieve the morning paper,
she'd sneak a look from her peephole
at his unshaven face, cigarette dangling
from the right corner of his mouth,
his bent torso in a torn tattered undershirt
where the ribs of his frame stuck out
like bare branches on a tree.
He bent to touch a pair of beige boots
with torn lining, tipped each one upside down,
first the left then the right.
Feet of clay, eyes squinted,
he returned through the door
empty handed, the paper never delivered.

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