a journal for eastern and western forms


Ekphrastic Free Verse ~ Jesse’s Homeless Face

Michael Lee Johnson, US


Someday Jesse wants to go home.
I see his world,
all it’s hidden concepts
embedded in Jesse’s aging face

life has whispered by leaving
memory trails

wrinkled forehead,
deep as river bed ruts
dried with years, weather-beaten,
just above his bushy eyebrows
that are gray and twisted

much like life drawing memories
across his empty face.
Jesse has a long oblique
Jewish nose with dark
blue opal eyes,
that would pierce
even the pain
of his own crucifixion.
Life tears flow though
a whole new ghoulish
apparition, a vision
of homelessness plastered
east of Dearborn Bridge,
near Lower Wacker Drive,
downtown Chicago

where affluent citizens
seldom go unless inebriated;
puke-stained, or in a taxicab.

Photographer unknown

Jesse’s hair sprouts skyward,
groomed like an abandoned
dove nest in wild Chicago
meandering winds.
Puffed eye bags of weariness
sag likes sandbags,
one slightly heavier than the other.
Weeks of breaded growth
contour his chin in color blends
of white and black.
Over one shoulder drapes
a grungy gray blanket found
in Lilly Mae’s garbage can,
the other shoulder,
naked, but tanned,
bears itself to the elements.

Jesse panhandles during the day.
At night and early Sunday mornings,
you can find him behind
a local McDonalds,
near Cracker Creek,
sharing leftover burgers
and sugar candy
with river rats

Jesse considers it an act of religious charity;
age 69, someday soon,
Jesse wants to go home.








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