Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Raffi Wartanian: dear stranger who is probably homeless and has sat next to me for the past three-and-a-half hours

you think i don’t notice you sitting there
next to me?
i’ve been here
three-and-a-half hours
typing verse,
structuring plots,
and you have sat there,
right next to me,
staring blankly,
at nothing,
with feigned interest.

where did you find those papers in your hand?
the fed ex care package you cradle like a newborn,
and its accompanying papers that connect you to
a body
and time
and place
that i could never surmise
nor trust that it is any more likely authentic
than your digging it up from a trashpile
to validate a sense of justification to sit in this bourgeois café.

and the fact i think these things about you,
that i doubt your belonging here
makes me look at myself with disgust,
and ask,
“who am I?”

when i went to the bathroom,
i took everything
because i didn’t trust you;
i only left the cup of water
that kept inflating my bladder,
forcing me to confront this dilemma.

the awkwardness when I returned,
we both felt it,
my distrust alarmingly apparent;
you fidgeted, i know it,
and it made me fidget
though i never let on.

why would i think for a second that
somehow i belong here more than you do?
because there’s (more) money in my pocket?
because i was born with more opportunity than you?
how would this scene play out,
who would we be,
if the roles were reversed;
if i endured your life,
and you mine?

do i choose to distrust you,
or am i programmed to distrust you?
do i choose to obey the programming?
do you?

would you feed me if i was starving in your arms?
would you throw me a penny if i begged for salvation?

what is your name?
what is your story?
why are you this way?
why am i?
why am i unable to ask you?

i hate you
i love you.

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