Jonathan K. Rice
I watch the traffic
reduced from four lanes to two.
The far lanes are scraped and rough
lined with orange cones
splattered with tar.
A work crew in hard hats
and fluorescent yellow vests
sweat in the heat, repaving the road,
driving pint-sized bulldozers and rollers,
shoveling, raking, sweeping,
waving cars through red lights
where the cross streets are blocked.
Two guys wait for the tattoo parlor to open.
John’s Kitchen is busy with breakfast.
It’s the only place I know that serves brains
and chitlins in this neighborhood.
A girl primps in the pawn shop window.
My coffee gets cold too fast but that’s okay.
It’s hot as hell and I’m waiting to meet
somebody down the block.
I sold my trumpet there.
The pawn shop guy with the gun on his hip
actually gave me what I paid for it
because I asked way too much.
I put gas in my car.
Now I’m looking to sell something else
but not my guitar
and never my dignity.
Jonathan Kevin Rice is a poet and visual artist living in North Carolina. This poem is reprinted by the author’s permission.