The day after Christmas
I hear C.V. before I see him:
a beautiful baritone voice.
Only if you can, please!
Only if you can.
He jingles a plastic cup. He sees me.
"Hello, love. How are you?"
I have some change for him.
For the Season,
His cup has a jester ring of red and green
felt spikes with bells on the end.
It's Holiday: the cup is full of fold.
I drop a quarter in.
"How was your Christmas?"
The day before Christmas he said,
"Some asshole stole my bike."
"Too cold to ride it anyway."
He laughed. "I'm almost glad to let it go."
But for Christmas, he had a wonderful time.
His former wife's children had him over.
She died some time ago.
It makes him sad
And he drank a little.
"You know," he says. "I never drink.
But I thought one wouldn't hurt."
I nod. He changes his story.
"I stood up and I was dizzy.
And the kids told me to sit down and rest.
I was drinking cranberry juice. I didn't know
anything was in it. And they just kept giving me more."
I nod again.
"But I had fun," he says.
"The only thing I feel bad about,
I wanted to take pictures of my children
and I forgot."
I nod, third time.
"You'll find another opportunity."
He nods back. "Yes I will."
He smiles at me. "New Year's Eve is my birthday."
"Well, how about that?" I smile back.
"Only if you can!" he calls. "Only if you can."
On New Year's Eve,
he has a boombox with him,
still playing Christmas music.
I slip a dollar in: "Happy Birthday."