on the sidewalks and in the sun

I have seen an old man about town
carrying an enormous pack.
he uses a walking stick
and moves up and down the sidewalks
with this pack strapped to his back.

it seems I keep seeing him.

if he’d only throw that pack away, I think,
he’d have a chance, not much chance
but a chance.

and he’s in a bad district–Hollywood.
they aren’t going to give him a
dry bone in Hollywood.

he is lost.   with that pack.
on the sidewalks and in the sun.

god o mighty, old man, I think, throw away that
pack.

then I drive on, thinking of my own
problems.

the last time I saw him he was not walking.
it was ten thirty a.m. on north Bronson and
hot, very hot, and he sat on a little ledge, bent,
the pack still strapped to his back.

I slowed my car to look at his face.
I had seen one or two other men in my life
with looks on their faces like
that.

I knew that look.
I would never see him again.

I speeded up and turned on my car
radio.