The Busker


His fingers spidering up and down the frets
tease morsels of purity from sound.
You would never know that he eats from dumpsters,
lives in a vacant lot that floods in autumn,
terrified of getting a fever.
He knows that if he dies,
his story will be told over cold beers
and home-rolled smokes,
by men he only thought were his friends.

But here, in this sweltering moment
he plays, soaring, wailing music that lives,
grows, swells and beseeches coins from passers-by
departing from commuter trains
holding only thoughts of home, dinner, sleep.
His rock-hard fingertips bend notes sweetly
while his hand strums to a heartbeat
not his own.

Invisible to most, audible to all,
he has no name, no face, no choice.
But what he has, he cherishes;
shade, fresh air, and his music.
He smiles softly over grizzled whiskers,
his bubble-gum pink tongue teasing his teeth
as his soul teases the Blues from strings
and his heart implores coins
that tinkle in counterpoint.

©2012 Christopher Reilley

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