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I hardly was aware of him
or his old suede coat
with broken zipper
and frayed sleeves.

Not the red flannel shirt
stained with food, sweat
and brown tobacco

nor the black watch cap
pulled down so low
he had no eyebrows.

I barely glimpsed

those steel-gray eyes
that stared
past traffic signs
and subway stairs

or the crystal ice that frosted
hair and whiskers
to age him well
past real time and tears.

I passed him by without a word

a shadow man who endures
a life of light and dark
reflected in the storefront’s
cracked glass.

a window’s whisper
written backwards
yet clearer there, in that mirror,
than in the daily light.

I never really noticed him

until today

when hoary winds
hollowed out the streets.

I felt a chill

pulled the collar of my coat close
around my ears and chin
then hurried past
his vacant place.


Both a visual artist and a poet, Donna M. Marbach has published non-fiction, fiction, and poetry in a variety of anthologies and periodicals. Most recently, she has been the poetry editor of the national writers’ magazine,Byline.and has previously edited for FootHills Press, a small poetry publisher in Kanona, NY. She is co-founder and past president of Just Poets Inc. a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the celebration of poetry and poets.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blueline, Hazmat Review, Homestead Review, Quercus Review, Sea Stories, The MacGuffin, The Red WheelBarrow, Silk Road, The Tipton Poetry Review, Limestone, Willow Swept Review and Pearl.  In February of 2008, she was  the featured poet in the on-line journal The Centrifugal Eye.

© 2009, Donna M. Marbach

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