He leaves in an overcoat
his loneliness intact.
I knew him years before his hand
could flick away a butt like that.
The rules are simple:
I show I do not recall
the crewcut he bristled at age nine,
the fuzzy head grown bony,
even in the eyes.
I don't ask him why he wanders streets
where no one asks him for his time,
where nothing needs, where trees
drop their leaves face down—

old friend.
Of me, of course,
we also do not speak.
I know I would have been like him,
avoiding bars
where men lean over counters
desperate to give advice.