In Philadelphia

A Poem by Krisann Janowitz

In Philadelphia, I Pass My City’s Homeless Hiding in Dark Corners of Suburban Station

& close their eyes. I see one man with hair like

salt sprinkled onto pepper.

His lips and elbows beg

for lotion. His skin drapes

over bones that cry in unison.

A smile forms across his face.

He holds a torn burgundy blanket

in rough hands and prays

with no rosary beads, pulling the

blanket to the right after each

hail Mary. Tears begin to fall down his left cheek

and his prayers grow louder

& I remember the last time a homeless man

startled me. I was speedwalking

from the train to Fergie’s Pub and a large man sitting

at the bottom of the staircase

yelled “You got a cigarette?!” After I realized

what he said, I apologized “No, sorry,

I wish I did.” And I do, because even though

you frighten my tiny female body,

I want to be able to help you,

to give you what you want in

America. America the land of opportunity to turn

away & save oneself from sure discomfort.

We are certain as the setting sun

that looking elsewhere is better

than seeing yourself in a mirror,

not knowing where your next

meal will come from. & I start to feel

sick thinking about all

who call Suburban Station home,

with its desert colored walls,

a fading tan with tiny holes where

time has chipped the cement

away. Away is where I want to go

from you. So I continue walking

up the stairs and hope you

didn’t see me.