To Bob Dylan and the person who wanted me to be more accurate with my titles.
Standing outside the supermarket
An old man reflected on this part of town.
“The one in the park is good,
They’ve recently put some money into it,
But the toilets by the railway station are not to be trusted.
They stink, the drug users hang out there,
Men blow each other and all the depraved shit in the world goes on there.”
The old man bit his lips as he spoke and went a little red in the face.
He folded his arms and sat down on a bench. The timber slats creaked under his weight.
I looked around the streets
It was quiet; a few cars moved about in the distance,
But here, where we were, no one moved.
Being still early in the morning,
The sidewalk was wet from where the shopkeeper hosed it.
The old man looked as if he had just crawled out of bed,
His clothes were stained and crumpled and a warm smell
Of sweat and urine radiated from his body.
He was settled in his place now as if he intended
To be there all day.
“I used to sit here with Jack,”
The old man went on and then spat into the gutter.
“But he died last year.
We used to be close friends but now I don’t have anyone to talk to,
It’s changed my day a lot; I do so much more thinking now.
And I don’t come here as much,
Only three days a week,
I go to the library instead.”
I thanked him for his advice on the toilets
And I headed across the street to the park.
In the men’s block, I find a young man collapsed on the floor.
A brown bag underneath him
As if he is hugging it to him on those cold tiles.
He wears a hood over his blond hair, and his face is pale and marked with acne.
I talk to him, but he doesn’t move, I nudge him with my foot,
I wonder if it’s drugs.
I call the ambulance, but don’t wait,
I leave those toilets and go back to my car.
Looking back to the supermarket, I see the old man,
and wonder what he’ll make of the excitement to come.
Published by David O'Sullivan