Poem – Flying A Sign (By Chrystal Berche)

Flying a Sign – By Chrystal Berche

Wild eyed woman, her hair a mess

Shakes as she goes person to person begging for cigarettes

A foot away an old man sleeps, his head pillowed on a graying jacket

‘Will work for food’ printed neatly on a sign tied to his chest

What place is this where ‘flying a sign’ is an illegal necessity,

men beg work from people passing by

and women trade in flesh for a place to lay their heads?

“Spare some change?”

“Do you have a dollar?”

“Hell I’ll be honest I just need cash for beer.”

Do you back away or give,

And how to choose who to give what too?

Passing three cigarettes the young man says “pay it forward”

to the old man who’d begged

and who knows, maybe he will

or maybe this is the day its being paid forward to him.

Waiting, I sit against the pillar, watching, writing

little group of us breaks into song every now and then

while a mans hauled away on a gurney

screaming about social change and political injustice

Security guard stands watching over us all

Still healing scratches down his arm from an out of control drunk

Raging ‘cause she’d run outta booze

Still he smiles and helps when he can

Laughs with the weary eyed lot of us stuck there for hours or days

“It is what it is,” he chuckles before he walks away

I’d have quit if I were him

After midnight the shambling junkies begin their zombie walk down the block

While we smoke that last cigarette before heading inside

Take one last look at the night, the bright lights across from the Ritz Carlton

Such an epic contrast

To the desperate figures struggling to survive the streets.