the third-floor apartment is abloom with books
stacked, shelved, and scattered; and the scent
of gamey mutton and shoe polish permeates

Henry stacks his dirty dishes in the bathtub
hangs his teacup in the closet with his silk ties
stores his toothbrush in a shoebox under the bed


he wears his khaki trousers inside out, places
a carefully folded tea towel on his balding bonce
then sits on a wooden chair by the half-open window


scribbles shorthand in the empty boxes of a crossword
assumes the position: a waiter for chance and opportunity;
outside, the metro terminal teems with expedient purpose


and pigeons puzzle and judge along the sidewalks;
somewhere, locked deep within the cranial vault
Henry’s keeper of secrets allows an unexpected


shot of metallic clarity – a real memory reminds him
that once upon a time he, too, walked those streets
uptown to the leafy university, taught from the cannon,


and as he looks upon the tomes strewn about
the remembrance flees; he whispers a lullaby
of nonsense, is once again lost to the attic of time

 First appeared in The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide (Mar/Apr 2020)


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