Slouched, in dumpster debris and cigarette butts,
A brooding man is whistling the soothing tune of his Mother’s cradlesong
In breaths mournful and long drawn, clinging to an empty flask in hand.
Bloodshot eyes, mellow in ashtray dust, oblivious to who’s listening
He’s whistling, couched between his broken-wheeled cart of worldly goods
And a penniless tin can crusted in red-brown rust demeaning
His worth again, with its measly pittance gathered for the day.
It’s not enough to pay for lunch and so he sulks hunched
In his makeshift tatters grafted in off-color patches
Wearing them on his ragged coat – its stitches are loose and unsewn.
He’s bare fisted, clad as ragtag, street curb loitering, nameless nomad,
He’s a no man in bearded gruff who sleeps rough
In boneyards of decaying dreams, underneath newspapers
Until the train engine steams.
Hurling the meager coin morsels, he raved and cursed with the ranting of a drunkard
Furious with the cold world overrun with penny-pinchers
And dollar-clenchers remiss to give, but paused to see his tortured face
With its chapped lips, its stubble scruff
And detached eyes, furrow-encased, watching him huff through the fogged
And smudged tarnish of the emptied tin can bottom
Yet, he began to whistle again, to the tune of his Mother’s cradlesong
In earnest of nostalgic wish as the memories got to him – the why and when
Of things that went wrong, turning for the worst, slumping into the slums
Among the dregs of beggars and bums where misery loves keeping company
With those who binge, living on the fringe that poverty doles.
As he’s whistling still, he dredges up lost hopes in his soul
That revisit troubling chills and he’s wanting for that warm touch
Of his Mother’s hand as she sang,
But he cannot understand why her lullaby’s words make escape
And although the melody lingers on that he whistles to,
Tears grew to precipitate at the thought
That they fell through holes agape in his memory, alcohol-erased.
Too much these stirrings were, so in slurring, his vision a blur
He lunged for the swig of another brandy’s gulp full – the only buffer helpful
Against the sobriety of another setting Sun
But his flask dripped the last little bit of drink swilled and done.
He clamored to his good foot, hobbling, the other crippled
Wobbling, off kilter, he wept whistling to tune of his Mother’s cradlesong
And while headlong to the alehouse for one more rotgut’s stale douse
He collapsed from a heart stricken and overtaken
And his pale body was left forsaken until the city garbage was raked in
His obituary, ghostwritten, by whomever took the time for listening
To his whistling in tune of his Mother’s cradlesong,
Is to be sung along with the words he forgot as his story is told,
Unfolding the tragedy of his lot in life lived as a haunted soul.
© 2014. Asha Gowan. All Rights Reserved.