At This Very Moment

Freedom Voices, 1992

At this very moment

as anti-Marxists

and anti-anarchists

and anti-revolutionary liberals

debate what’s the matter with the places

they’ve never been to,

a very tall man

a very gaunt man

a very weary man

with greasy hair

and dirty hands

and a pressed cotton shirt

that is as clean

as it could be

has borrowed the ashtray

from my table,

returned it empty

and is proceeding to smoke

the butts.


He has straightened all the chairs,

bussed all the tables,

hoping to find

a scrap of dignity.

Now he’s settled down to eat

a bowl of chowder

he believes the manager

has given him in payment.

He runs the clean white napkin

over his neck and face,

twice quickly in his ears

and over the seat of his chair.


A human being

approaching some stale clam chowder

with the reverence

of one kneeling at an altar;

A human being

sipping some lousy clam chowder

with the tenderness of a lover

in the belly

of the world’s most envied abundance.

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