Pedestrian

By Thomas Lux b. 1946 Thomas Lux
Tottering and elastic, middle name of Groan,   
ramfeezled after a hard night
at the corpse-polishing plant, slope-
shouldered, a half loaf
of bread, even his hair tired, famished,   
fingering the diminished beans
in his pocket—you meet him.
On a thousand street corners you meet him,   
emerging from the subway, emerging   
from your own chest—this sight’s shrill,   
metallic vapors pass into you.
His fear is of being broken,
of becoming too dexterous in stripping   
the last few shoelaces of meat
from a chicken’s carcass, of being moved by nothing   
short of the Fall of Rome, of being stooped   
in the cranium over some loss he’s forgotten   
the anniversary of.... You meet him,   
know his defeat, though proper
and inevitable, is not yours, although yours also   
is proper and inevitable: so many defeats   
queer and insignificant (as illustration:   
the first time you lay awake all night
waiting for dawn—and were disappointed), so many   
no-hope exhaustions hidden,
their gaze dully glazed inward.—And yet we all   
fix our binoculars on the horizon’s hazy fear-heaps   
and cruise toward them, fat sails
forward.... You meet him on the corners,   
in bus stations, on the blind avenues
leading neither in
nor out of hell, you meet him
and with him you walk.

Thomas Lux, “Pedestrian” from New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995. Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Lux. Used by the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: New and Selected Poems 1975-1995 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997)

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Poet Thomas Lux b. 1946

Subjects Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries