Jon Little is a Tennessee native with a background in hip hop, anthropology and creative writing, I currently live in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. When not working for the rather Orwellian named Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, I write poetry.
With my musical background, I consider each poem as a work to be read silently, as well as performed aloud.
On the way from the ATM
On the way from the ATM,
after leaving the tended green
campus and crossing Broadway,
a man approaches from out the lot.
The sweltering heat fumes in silence
Up towards the fading sun.
But he wears a striped flannel polo
and a blue sweatshirt tied round his waist.
He pulls a cigarette from his cracked lips, and
shakes his waxed Coca-Cola cup
like a lazy tambourine. The coins clink
out the rhythm of a blues no longer sung.
Your friend strides past, his khaki pants swishing
to the giddy beat of the smooth, paved street.
But you, unaccustomed to the head down rush
of the city, you hesitate.
With stuttering step you rummage through
pockets for spare coins, crumpled bills given
in change. But all you find is a lint tipped pen
and a wallet.
The street light’s on the fritz again,
but even in the flickering light you can see
his lips—the black and blue striping,
the cracked skin opening to more cracks.
Your friend turns back with a disparaging grin,
beckoning you on down the street, into the neon night.
In that moment the tambourine shake eclipses
the street’s indifferent hum.
From beneath a brow furrowed deep as a field plowed
year after year after year, cloudy eyes rise to meet you.
Caught off guard, you draw your wallet, pull the first bill you touch,
and with a few shuffling steps return to your friend’s side.
“You know he’s only gonna spend it on booze,”he says.
You shrug and smile. You don’t want to admit it, but you’re happy.
It was only a five.