The last bottle of Sweet Tokay 
was gone hours ago 
the morning was cold
this day would be no different 
than uncounted others

It was too early to start panhandling
Union Gospel Mission was open for breakfast 
Listening to prayers
a small price to pay 
for oatmeal and hot coffee

pushing his cardboard-box-lean-to 
to the side, got up 
ran his fingers through his hair 
brushed off his clothes
looked for a smoke

there weren’t any mirrors 
under the railroad trestle
hiding his duffle bag began walking up the bank 
when he got to the top 
he could see the Bridge.

memory took over 
he saw his parents’ house 
beyond the bridge
mom at the stove 
cooking breakfast,
scrambled eggs, bacon, toast

dad behind the morning paper
smoke curling up 
over the sports 
occasionally a hand would reach out 
for coffee or orange juice

next to the newspaper 
he saw an empty place 
his place, a memento mori
shaking off images turned
walked up the street towards the mission


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