Morning, Dealing With Etiquette


The first mushroom after a day of rain,
solitary, comes as a surprise, parasol
high under the tree next door. By
the end of the block, the only

surprise is the absence of a crowd of them
moving like Chinese women in an old newsreel,
black and white, holding up more than half the sky.


Guy on the steps of the gsb is on a cellphone
at 6am. He waits until I turn to call out
excuse me sir to my back. You see,

this gives me permission to walk away, as
in a parable, to see without taking notice.
It makes it clear he’s not a threat,

like one dog baring his throat to another.
When I turn and say what can I do for you?
He says thank you for treating me like a person,

sir, to which I reply it’s pretty clear you are one,
so why wouldn’t I?
He’s launching into what promises
to be a long tale when, treating him like a person

on the steps of the gsb at 6am chattering
on a cellphone, I ask him to cut to the chase
and tell me what it is he wants.

I’m just tryin’ to get me somethin’ to eat…
I don’t carry change on morning walks, so
I say sorry, can’t help, and walk on,

speculating about the cost of a cellphone.
He says sorry, man; and I, not
turning, say no problem.


Not until the last mushroom rises
do I see his sorry, man
was not for me.