I’m standing on the corner of 24th and Mission
watching a middle aged guy with a megaphone
in one hand and a bible in the other.
He’s warning that the only way to be saved
is to come to Jesus.
He’s saying it all in Spanish, and though I’m no longer
fluent in the language I do understand about half
of what he’s saying.
He affirms that it’s never too late;
that when you open yourself to him you’ll have a life
of peace, harmony, and tranquility.
He continues to preach with great fervor
even though people pass him as if he doesn’t exist.
Then suddenly he stops and places the megaphone
and bible onto the ground.
He takes out a handkerchief, wipes his forehead,
and after putting the handkerchief back,
he takes out a candy bar from his front pocket,
rips off the wrapper and starts eating the bar.
Not seeing a garbage can close by,
he drops the wrapper onto the ground,
wipes his hands together,
then picks up the bible and the megaphone
and continues to advocate for Jesus.
And as I walk past him toward my destination
our eyes suddenly meet, and I give him a nod
to which he meaningfully nods back,
as if we share the same excitement for the lord. . .
Some Serious Thoughts
Thirty minutes ago, I was making a left turn
while the car coming toward me was also making a left turn.
Then, the car behind the one coming toward me
speeded up and swerved around it
missing me by no more than a few inches.
I didn’t have time to honk my horn
but I did see that it was a man driving solo,
maybe in his forties.
For a moment I had the urge to turn around
and track him down.
And when he got out of his car
I’d use the small bat that I keep under the seat
to beat his head in.
Now I must admit that I’m getting way better
at controlling my anger,
as I had myself completely under control in just a few seconds,
which I’m very thankful for,
because I’d make a terrible inmate,
and my wife would probably find someone else after a while,
and I certainly couldn’t blame her. . .
At the Corner Gym
I started talking with this acquaintance who’d just returned from traveling,
and at some point he mentioned he’d been in every state
in the United States and most of Canada and Europe,
to which I responded, “Then you must know everything!
Anyone who’s traveled that much must know everything about life.
I’ve suspected this about you all along!”
Not realizing I was joking, he responded,
“Come to think of it, I do know a lot!”
And after we went our separate ways
I felt a bit jealous that he’d traveled that extensively.
Then I recalled that on a previous occasion
he mentioned he hadn’t worked a real job
in longer than he could remember,
that his wife supported him so that he could write
and smoke cigars in the afternoon.
Reflecting on this, I felt a lot more jealous
as I hopped onto a stationary bike and began peddling away. . .
Under Any Circumstance
As long as I can write at least one poem per day I should be fine.
But should my output completely dry up. . . who knows!
I doubt that I’d kill myself, but its possible that I’d only get out of bed
to go to the bathroom and/or to put something in my stomach.
I doubt that I’d take longer trips than to the corner market,
and even then I probably wouldn’t do so until the refrigerator was bare.
I certainly wouldn’t go to any museums, music events, or places
where there are lots of strangers, some of whom might smile or nod
and force me to respond in kind even though I’m feeling a desire
to disconnect from the entire human race.
I would never want to be forced into that, under any circumstance. . .
Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in MockingHeart Review, Colloquial, Ordinary Madness, Third Wednesday, After The Pause, Fear of Monkeys, Brickplight, Tigershark, Corvus, and many others. In 2017 he was nominated for both The Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.