(Poem in response to the L-O-L column “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”)
The man in the suit silently roams the Gaslight zone. Some call him, “The Professor.” There’s a rumor: he is a closet
genius, a beautiful mind. His black dog crawls from one sidewalk crack to another, taking breaks. God help him
if the creature gets sicker. The two gaze at the sky, as if secretly checking the weather, moment by moment.
The Professor will be there, breathing, frozen, when I leave to run errands. And he’ll be there to see me return flushed
and weighted down. He doesn’t move for Eddie, who got shot nine times and lived. He doesn’t move for incense burning
in five stores across the street. He doesn’t move for curry air or strangers crammed on the bus stop bench, waiting.
Someone asks if the 17’s ever coming. He doesn’t respond. Inside Ludlow Garage, there lurks the old scent of bands
that once played the rooms. If you stand where the stage once was, you can hear the forgotten roar. He wouldn’t know.
I say “Hello” when I see him. Every time, he waves back, startled, interrupted from his work with stillness, a difficult
employer. I can count on these visions, these regulars, and the bizarre, unchanging comforts so easily taken
for granted when drifting, skating, rushing, sliding through the teachers, the lost dogs, the simple sirens of home.