Homeless

Across the street, in the bank parking lot,
is a Pinto, red, circa 1997.
The back left tire needs air.
The struts need lifting.
The snow-dusted, rusty car is filled—
back seat and passenger—
with a layered lasagna of newspapers,
fast food bags, junk mail, holey denims,
flannel shirts, dirty tube sox,
curled-page telephone books,
crumpled napkins.

The owner of the car lives his days
in the public library.
It’s warm in there in the winter.
He doesn’t have to start the car for heat.
He reads, moves to a carrel
in the back of the building,
puts his head down to nap.

Ablutions are performed in the men’s room
with paper towels and push-button soap.
He stalls when another gent comes in,
runs his long-nailed fingers through
his wet, no longer greasy, hair.

He only seeks the dumpster
behind the library for bodily sustenance.
It’s next door to the pizzeria.
He can usually smell the pepperoni
when he is in need.

By day he fills his head with knowledge,
by night his stomach
from the lift-lid restaurant.
He watches stars through a windshield,
pulls another layer of red-circled, help wanted
newspaper to stubbled chin.

 
Marilyn Windau Zelke.jpg

Marilyn Zelke Windau started writing poems at age thirteen, usually sitting in a quiet bathroom bathtub with a pillow. She has had four books of poetry published, the latest being Hiccups Haunt Wilson Avenue (Kelsay Books, 2018). She includes her maiden name to honor her father, who was also a writer.