in our town of ten years
& ten days
our block neighbors like us
and smile, calling us the
"new people" *
I take a paper scrap when I jog
in dark before work so I can
report the burned out streetlights
And there're a lot
because our city mothers & fathers
contract for cheap lamps
that last merely months
maybe to keep their friends
with cherry pickers busy.

as I approach the state-federally
mandated low income housing
called "Solara," which surely proves,
"See, we let poor people live among us
and it's right across from the Walmart
parking lot, too."

I see glares from the complex's perimeter
lighting, fed by Solara's photovoltaic panels,
concealed behind 2nd story parapets
of the wood frame stucco death traps.

And the needless lighting spills into the
otherwise darkened little park
where I spy three bearded bums standing
around a picnic table, their altar in the pre-dawn
trinity breakfast ceremony:
a 48 oz glass jar of grapefruit juice,
half-drunk, tinged brown
by the uncapped Jim Beam nearby.
And a ghetto blaster, silent.
But as I turned closer
the tallest,
shaman among them,
pressed a button
and the voice of Buddy Holly
rang out,

"Well, all right so we're being foolish,
It's all right if people know..

And I jogged in place
transfixed by the pure guitar brass
sudden in my morning.
And they noticed me,
And the shaman held the jar,
offering it to me with a weary smile,
but still a smile.

I bowed and shook "No, thanks"
and I turned back towards home.

I noticed that City Hall also had
office lights burning needlessly,
Left on by bureaucratic
dilettantes whose wrists were
too limp too lazy to flick
a switch as they hurried home.


* Radio Overlord Garrison Keillor