Exchanged Community | Ken Poyner


Sixty years ago
I traded a year of my life
To save the life of a friend.

It was not nobility.
At the time
I could not imagine myself
Without him.  You know
How kids at that age are.
Every month is an eon,
Every friend an eternal adventure.

Growing up
Is what the girl two doors down

There was an available magic:
I took an altruistic opportunity.
Eighteen months later
The friend’s father
Accepted a job in Georgia,
The lot of them moved,
Promised to call and never did.
It happens all the time.

Since my debt was still
Unconditional, as best I could
I kept track of my friend.

He has two daughters,
Served twelve years for armed robbery,
Is trying to make a life
With his third wife,
Though she is becoming tired of the beatings.
He does not know this.
He does not know this
Is my hobby, this
Is my life’s work.  I scan
Public records, have his social security number,
Know his credit card balances,
Log every discoverable indiscretion.

If he remembers me at all, it is only				
As an intrusion in the navigable narrows of his being:
A dim, half considered half circumstance
That gave him one bearable nudge towards his present.
Long nights I sit at my computer screen
Gathering the tatters of his existence,
Breathing in, breathing out,
My heart a mechanical beat, a machine
Keeping time, keeping time:
Nothing more.

A Map for the Lost
©2022 Edward Lee

Missed Community

I see a man, waiting
For a train at a station,
Of no particular import, no
Embarrassment of architecture.
His gray clothes barely stand
Away from the wall and he moves
As one long process, as though
Rail to rail, bolt to bolt,
And back to the beginning again.
It would be too iconic
If he spoke to no one:  he smiles,
He mutters to passers by, he avoids
Eye contact.  His hands crossed
Can’t be seen clearly enough
To be distinguished as workman’s hands
Or a financier’s hands or the broken
Appendages of the bare-knuckles boxer.
You can make any story you want of him.

Trains pass, but he is waiting
For his ticketed one.  To catch
His breathing the light must be perfectly poised.
He settles like pounding rain.

You will grow tired of watching him:
He does not do enough.  He waits.
He seems to be looking for
Something in particular that he knows well.
He could be anyone.  Resident.
Citizen.  Out-of-towner.  Neighbor.

The man who made suggestions
About lunch on your last train.

He could be me.
I could be lingering at the edge
Of your world, someone
With something to say, lost in thought,
Missing my chance to whisper it to you.
But this time at this station it is you.

You wait to no good purpose
On an unremarkable, senseless, but watched platform
And the train just now slowing
Is yours.  Your feet move
Like quicklime in water and happily
I hear the silly rhythm of your breathing.

©2022 Ken Poyner
All rights reserved

Ken Poyner…

…after years of impersonating a Systems Engineer,has retired to watch his wife continue to break national and world raw powerlifting records.  They travel lazily between sites of powerlifting or literary interest.  Ken’s four current poetry and four short fiction collections are available from Amazon and just about everywhere else.  He has appeared in “Analog”, “The Iowa Review”, “Furious Gazelle” and many other places.



Be inspired… Be creative… Be peace… Be

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