Alan Abrams

The Man On The Sidewalk; Where You Find It: Alan Abrams

The Man On The Sidewalk

The opium eater reclines with rigid
head and just-open’d lips…

You all know how hard it is to find a good parking place
in a busy town. Well, we lucked out—or so it seemed—
while running an errand yesterday. I prepared to back in

when she said, no, not here. I too had noticed the man,
lying on his side against the wall, so I pulled forward and
said, why don’t you hop out here? Then I backed into

the space and got out. I pulled a buck from my wallet
and walked up the man, who looked up at me with
vacant eyes. He took the money with a sluggish hand,

and I caught up with my wife. He had his hand in his
pants, she said, explaining why she was annoyed
at me. Was it the hand that took the bill, I wondered.

We took longer than I thought, and I was glad I’d put
an extra quarter in the meter. The man was still there
when we returned, the dollar bill clutched in his fist.

… And such as it is to be one of these, more or less am I…

(Words in italics are from “Song of Myself,” by Walt Whitman)


Where You Find It

It’s not much more than a mile to the pub,
which I walk to when Janet’s away, often
passing by a troop of blissed out Buddhas
nam-yo-ing on the sidewalk by the Chic-Fil-A.
The burgers are thick and juicy at McGinty’s,
and the stout is capped with foam you could cut
with a knife. I could share half the burger with
you, and leave, well satisfied, after a single pint. But–

Man takes a drink
Drink takes a drink
Drink takes a man

–as Therese, Bob’s wife, who bore him six kids
and has visions of the saints, once told me. She
meant it as a warning; I took it as a fact. Thus I
cap the third Guinness with a Jameson. Heading

back home, a few Buddhas are still chanting, though it’s
already dark. I’m wobbling, so I walk faster to maintain my
course. Reaching Sligo Creek–beyond the streetlight’s reach–
I pause to take a splendid leak. Bliss is where you find it.

Alan Abrams has been a drifter and a stoner, a motorcycle mechanic and a carpenter. More recently, he has been a bootleg architect. He has a diploma from a university he never attended, as well as other dubious certifications. Poems he claims to have written are scheduled to appear in The Wayfarer and The Innisfree Poetry Journal. Some of his stories--which are merely thinly disguised memoirs--have appeared in The Hare's Paw and The Black Boot (now defunct). He presently resides in Silver Spring, MD.