Mountain Man In the Capitol


Allen walks as if a coat of consonants

Protects him from streets that let him pass with maybe

A woofed out streetlight answer two blocks down. 

Now, Albany is an old city where the traffic signs call

The birds: Lark, Partridge, Dove;

The walkups and the shotgun

Flats are built right next to the roads.

Here, stunting your own eyes to

Intruders in your line of sight is a virtue.

When Allen was manic he thought the people standing in

Front of him in the stores were stealing;

Customer service was in on it,

Anyone could join….the code was you said, Credit.

You could walk out the door with Adidas, or Marie

Callendar’s, head home free and clear

To your apartment, in light that switched through

Shadows like a cattail.

Everyone was playing. 

Allen is not the only one bundled against the chill

In scarves and a long beard as if a bear, come to sit

Still in the city, taking the news rolled up to home,

Where he paints; the dishes recently done, sun

Lining the indigo plates

On a frayed towel. There are others,

I call them mountain men and wonder

Whether it means the twine of nature and defiance

Resonates like sun tea

Here where security comes as New Yorkers pay

Taxes.  Allen listens like a John McPhee.

But by 8AM Monday, the ferocity of protecting

A job they can’t stand

Through a commitment to the Ticket

Is lost on a working painter.

His grief over their lives

Good token for a bus ride back from lunacy. 

Yet if it were all true:

The Capital fell down like a draw-

Bridge, I think Allen

Would be called for.  He might be occupied

Painting a memento of a carpenter’s son

Who gave fish and anger to the poor.



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